“I was dead when I got to WORLD, but it has saved my life,” one woman living with HIV/AIDS said.
She’s part of WORLD, short for Women Organized to Respond to Life-threatening Disease, an organization that has supported women living with HIV/AIDS in Northern California for the past 20 years.
Organizations like WORLD link women to health and social services that help them cope with the stigma and discrimination associated with the disease, which can have as many harmful consequences as the virus itself.
They recently celebrated their commitment to give women a voice to raise awareness and confront HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination.
The excitement in the room was palpable.
As the night progressed, I got to hear first-person stories of struggle and hope from WORLD’s most dedicated advocates.
“I live with HIV and it’s not a death sentence anymore,” the same woman said. “I have been positive for 23 years now and counting.”
One of my colleagues was so inspired she found herself reaching for her pocketbook.
“There was an energy about them that was very moving,” she told me. “They’re committed to making sure no other woman has to go through it alone. I felt the need to contribute somehow. We need more women to come together and mobilize to fight HIV/AIDS.”
And she’s right: Almost half of all people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide today are women.
The Levi Strauss Foundation supports WORLD because it believes that, in order to make an HIV-free future a reality, we need women’s voices to be part of the HIV/AIDS response.
Almost 30 years ago, the Levi Strauss Foundation became the first foundation to join the fight against HIV/AIDS. Since then, our commitment to support communities who are most-at-risk of contracting the disease has never wavered.
I returned to San Francisco that night feeling very proud of these women, and of WORLD and the Levi Strauss Foundation for supporting their cause. To learn more about WORLD’s history and work, please click here. And please go here to see pictures of the celebration.