Twenty-Five Years and Going Strong

Positive Women’s Network is twenty-five years young in 2016. We started out with an answering machine at a women’s health clinic, and have grown to be national voice on Intervention and knowledge translation services for women and the communities that support them in health and in life.

What makes an organization grow and thrive for twenty-five years? Women and service providers who rely on us for expertise and resources have this to say:

What Makes Positive Women’s Network Succeed?

Meeting other women with HIV: “I’ve met women who I can talk to about HIV–this is the unique connection, but we also talk about lots of other things- challenges of living with a chronic illness, current issues in HIV, developments, treatments. [It’s] good to have poz women friends and talk about how it’s impacted our lives.”  (Member)

Receiving non-judgmental support: “I’ve always been able to come here, whether I’m strong or not, healthy or not.  Nobody looks at you any differently—that’s huge and really important. A lot of people tend to show judgments, but PWN doesn’t.” (Member)

Participating in programs that enhance well-being: “At at a retreat everyone “can enjoy life instead of looking at [HIV] like a death sentence.” (Member)

Working with supportive and knowledgeable staff: “The staff is good with their boundaries, good with support, good at everything they do. They know when you’re at your weakest and at your best, and empower you at both ends.” (Member)

“PWN staff knows everything there is to know about HIV and women’s issues, and if they didn’t know they would find out for you.” (Member)

Is a Women-Only Organization Important?

Women need a dedicated environment: A founding member spoke about starting PWN:  “Fundamentally, HIV wasn’t being addressed by the major AIDS organizations. Gay men led the way in advocacy and education, but there was such significant absence of women and visibility and the idea that women can get it and how they get it and why they get it.”

Women’s needs are still different from men’s: “There are so many configurations on how it came to be in the family, and the fear- he’s going to leave me, what’s going to happen to my children?”  (Social worker)

Violence against women is a huge issue and for that reason alone, we need women’s HIV services.”  (Social Worker)

“I know there’s a lot of safety issues of women vs. men… the needs are different, and there needs to be separate organizations.” (Member)

“PWN has been such a lifeline for women.”(Member)

“PWN has the most beautiful women in the world. We’re all one, we all love each other, we all laugh with each other, we don’t agree sometimes but we care for each other.” (Member)

Here’s a comment from 2011 when we marked 20 years: