Women on the Front Lines in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS

Levi Strauss & Co.
November 16, 2016

In the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, most thought of it as an issue affecting only men.
They were wrong.
Today, more than half the 40 million people living with HIV/AIDS around the world are women and girls. Even as great strides are made in prevention, education and treatment, many of those efforts remain focused on men. Except at WORLD (Women Organized to Respond to Life-threatening Diseases) – an organization dedicated to helping women whose lives are affected by the disease.
WORLD is deeply committed to putting a spotlight on the issues facing women because it recognizes that the effect of an HIV-positive diagnosis has the unique potential to ripple through families.
WORLD celebrates 25 years of working to elevate the voices of HIV-positive women on Nov. 17 with an anniversary event at The Holy Redeemers Center in Oakland – a site chosen for its unique history early on in the epidemic as the only hospice facility for people with AIDS during their final days.
“We honor their lives and continue their fight,” according to WORLD.
The Levi Strauss Foundation (LSF) is supporting the event, and has long taken a strong stand against HIV/AIDS, supporting policy advocacy, law reform and other efforts to fight discrimination against people affected by the virus.
“LSF is proud to sponsor this milestone event and WORLD’s efforts to lift up the voices of women living with HIV,” said Luis Arteaga, Senior Program Manager at LSF. “We are committed to ending HIV in our hometown of San Francisco, and WORLD is an important ally to help make that happen.”
WORLD has a long history of its own in the battle with the disease. The organization was founded in the Oakland living room of Rebecca Dennison, who was HIV-positive herself, as a small newsletter for HIV-positive women. It kept growing and adding services – including a speaker’s bureau that sends HIV-positive speakers to schools, churches, jails, and elsewhere, and a peer advocacy program that helps women living with HIV make informed decisions. Over the years, WORLD has become a national leader in women-centered HIV health care services, programs and advocacy.
The organization is also now partnering with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation on a Women’s Clinic offering primary care for HIV-positive women, and the newly launched “Still I Rise” campaign in Oakland. Inspired by Maya Angelou’s famous poem, the campaign is focused on women of color, and aims to counter the stigma and discrimination that HIV-positive women still face.
Learn more about the WORLD 25th Anniversary event, or sign up to attend the benefit on Nov. 17.