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Working At the Intersections: Lessons learned about Collaboration Critical Intersections: Reproductive and Economic Justice Barnard Center for Women’s.

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Presentation on theme: "Working At the Intersections: Lessons learned about Collaboration Critical Intersections: Reproductive and Economic Justice Barnard Center for Women’s."— Presentation transcript:

1 Working At the Intersections: Lessons learned about Collaboration Critical Intersections: Reproductive and Economic Justice Barnard Center for Women’s Research - September 22, 2010

2 Mission  The Women’s HIV Collaborative of New York is rooted in the leadership and experiences of women living with HIV and AIDS. As women, we recognize and claim HIV/AIDS as an epidemic that seriously impacts women in New York and worldwide. We are committed to empowering and supporting women, to developing innovative solutions through research, policy and advocacy and economics to promote platforms that support social justice and human rights for all.

3 History  The Women’s HIV Collaborative of New York (WHCNY or the “Collaborative”) emerged out of ad hoc meetings among HIV/AIDS service providers and women living with HIV who were attending the national Women and HIV conferences in 1997 and 1999 in Los Angeles, CA. It was formally established in April 2000 with seed funding from Dupont Pharmaceuticals, which developed a number of “collaboratives” nation-wide in response to the lack of knowledge and priorities for funding services for women with HIV/AIDS. By 2000, the Women’s HIV Collaborative of New York had more than forty nonprofit service providers and advocates for women’s health from New York State, including thirty HIV positive women – all working together to establish a sustainable and broad based network dedicated to addressing the multiple needs of women infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.

4 Approach  From the beginning the Collaborative recognized that in order to best serve women, you needed to do it in the context of their lives. For most women, HIV/AIDS is not their most pressing issue and as providers they realized that you had to meet women where they were and meet their multiple needs.  Mechanisms:  Community Roundtables – began as information sharing, now designed around strategic communications.  List serve – A way of sharing in between community roundtables  Research and Publications – Utilized a community participatory model that ensured that it was based in the reality of the lives of women living with HIV/AIDS and the providers that served them.  Collective decision-making – decisions made through a consensus building model  Policy – developed a city-wide policy agenda with input from community partners

5 Community Mapping Project and Literature Review - Findings  Ten percent of the women and girls with HIV in the U.S. live in NYC, making it home to the largest population of women with HIV in the country.  A disproportionate number of these women—90%—are black and Hispanic; over half, or 68%, are over the age of 40; and more than a third, or 41%, were infected through heterosexual activity.  Statistics like these are distressingly familiar: the epidemic’s distribution among women in the United States has skewed towards low-income women of color for decades.  These stats aren’t going to change until more is done to address the root causes of women’s risk for HIV and less time is spent throwing condoms at women and tellling them to make use their male partners use them, as though all women enjoy the autonomy or power or knowledge to make that request.  Women’s biological risk for HIV is intensified by socio-ecoonomic stressors including poverty, domestic violence, depression, homelessness, substance abuse, lack of access to adequate health care, sexual health information, or childcare, and incarceration.

6 Community Mapping Project and Literature Review – Findings (continued)  Addressing those larger issues will make a huge difference in what has for far too long been seen as an individual problem with an individual solution.  Our report “maps” or pinpoints “hot spots” in NYC’s five boroughs— specific areas within the five boroughs and the city as a whole with the highest concentration of HIV-positive women.  This first set of maps is overlaid with another set that shows the various intersecting types of social and economic distress within these hot spots that heighten women’s risk for contracting HIV.  The report offers concrete suggestions on how our local politicians, advocates, and service providers could address these factors.

7 This map shows the regions in New York City where the highest number of people living with HIV/AIDS reside. Zip Codes with at least 1,000 residents living with HIV/AIDS are concentrated in four major regions around the City: Interior of the Bronx Harlem The Lower East and West sides Central Brooklyn

8 When we separate our map of the rate of people living with HIV/AIDS into two between men and women, we see that the highest rates for each are concentrated in different places. Men are most highly concentrated in the Lower West Side, and less so in parts of Harlem and some of the Bronx interior. While women are more highly concentrated in the South and Central Bronx, and less so in Harlem, and parts of Central Brooklyn.

9 Unlike men, the highest concentration of women living with HIV/AIDS falls almost entirely within the highest poverty neighborhoods in the City.

10 These geographical findings suggest that there may be ways to improve services for women living with HIV/AIDS, including: Developing self-help, group support, and information networks among women in the neighborhoods. Strengthening the capacity of women in the target neighborhoods to identify service priorities and to advocate effectively for their implementation. Exploring neighborhood based street outreach. Reviewing the extent to which services in targeted neighborhoods are particularly aware of the needs specific to women. Tailoring services to take account of neighborhood conditions such as poverty and cyclical migration between prison and community.

11 Translating Research into Policy  To address the intersection of reproductive justice and HIV the Collaborative recommends that New York’s Mayor and our State Education Department reduce HIV risk among young women by mandating comprehensive sexuality education, which in turn would lower the rate of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unintended pregnancies.  Additionally, in order to address the intersection of HIV and economic justice the Collaborative designed a program that focused on women 40+ living with HIV/AIDS who are transitioning off of public assistance into the workforce called the Higher Ground program.  Increasingly, the Collaborative is beginning to engage partners around the intersection of violence and HIV which is a barrier to reproductive and economic justice.

12 Challenges  With the exception of a few brave funders such as the New York Women’s Foundation, very little resources go toward policy and advocacy work  Fewer dollars are going to the field of HIV/AIDS  Need to reinvent ourselves and better define our focus on the social determinants of health  The necessity to identify new partnerships outside of the field

13 You can download the full report, including a literature review and annotated bibliography, at For hard copies of the report, please call us at (646) 781-9554 or send an email to

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