Woman-centered Supportive Services are Crucial for Women Living with HIV

The Care Team at The Women’s Collective (TWC) includes four medical case managers (MCM) and two community health workers (CHW) who work together to support our clients so that they consistently stay linked to medical care, treatment, and support services that improve their health outcomes and quality of life. The services we provide are woman-centered and family-focused, which is so necessary in the fight against HIV/ AIDS.  Globally, women make up 54% of people living with HIV. In D.C., women make up 28% of people living with HIV, and Black women represent 92% of women living with HIV. Women of color face challenges that make them more susceptible to HIV and less likely to enter and stay in care, such as gender and racial inequality, discrimination, stigma, poverty, and gender-based violence.  Despite this picture, women are often overlooked or ignored, and are underserved at other agencies.  Our services provide a safe space for women living with HIV, and meet their individual needs as mothers, caregivers, and heads of household.

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Our team provides support well beyond clients’ medical needs, in an effort to address all the issues that might interfere with their ability to enter and stay in care.  The Care Team frequently assists clients with food shortages, housing placement, career planning, emotional support, family services, and substance abuse treatment. Women come to TWC for a hot plate of food for themselves and their families in our Community Kitchen, which has food delivered twice weekly, or shop through clothing donations in our Resource Room. The Care Team provides a Play Room for children while women meet with their MCM. It’s not uncommon to see the Director of Care Programs walking around bouncing a client’s baby, while mom uses the computer in the Resource Room to find employment! In addressing the numerous issues that are specific to women as care-givers, providers, and mothers, we are offering unique services that many women living with HIV/AIDS who reside in D.C. cannot find elsewhere.

The Care Team has historically provided the Coffee House Support Group to clients as a safe space to address issues affecting their daily lives, to share resources, and to develop important social connections that break feelings of isolation. During last month’s Coffee House, harm reduction strategies were introduced to the group as a means to address risk that could compromise women’s health. Medical case managers discussed intimate partner violence (IPV)with women and a range of other topics on different ways women are at increased risk of HIV infection.  Coffee House is also fun!  We recently welcomed a dance instructor to teach some line dances!

The Care Team has also introduced a range of social support groups in response to the varied and nuanced needs of the women we serve. For example, we now have a support group for women who are living with HIV/AIDS who love women.  In April, the Care Team will debut additional support groups that will provide clients with various life skills and emotional support.  Be sure to keep up with our calendar of events to see all of our upcoming groups!

We look forward to using this space to showcase the needs of the women we serve and the myriad ways we meet those needs as women, mothers, and caregivers.

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