Proactive, Optimistic, Sisters, In Touch, Involved, Validated & Empowered (P.O.S.I.T.I.V.E.) Voices
The South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council (SCHAC) founded the P.O.S.I.T.I.V.E. Voices (PV), a health advocacy network for HIV-positive women in 2008 in order to mobilize WLWHA in South Carolina to have more of a voice in HIV planning and advocacy across the state. Names by WLWHA, with input from the SCHAC staff, the acronym P.O.S.I.T.I.V.E., which stands for
Proactive, Optimistic, Sisters, In Touch, Involved, Validated & Empowered,
captures who WLWHA strive to be and how they want to be perceived.
The women of PV have become the faces of WLWHA in their local community and the legislature. Women who are interested in becoming a PV member and ultimately an HIV advocate must submit an application that will be reviewed by a committee consisting of ASOs. Eligible applicants are 18 years and older HIV positive women who have committed to full disclosure (e.g. wiling to participate in television, newspaper and public forums) in their communities as well as nationally. Qualified applicants are also adhering to their HIV treatment regimen, and will agree to follow the PV Code of Conduct. P.O.S.I.T.I.V.E. Voices trainees complete the 5-hour therapeutic intervention model, SATIR, designed to influence individual commitment to adherence behaviors, promote self-efficacy, and promote attitudes that foster the delay of disease progression. Over the past five yeas, PV has experienced numerous successes. Examples of these include:
As of May 15, 2014, 16 women make up the P.O.S.I.T.I.V.E. Voices network. These women represent all racial, ethnic and age groups within 10 counties around the state. These same 16 women have participated in advocacy forums in their local communities and a few have participated in national forums.
Development and pilot of the P.O.S.I.T.I.V.E. Voices Women’s Empowerment Academy, which is demonstrating a promise in increased disclosure, offering the environment in which women can become empowered and sparking interest in HIV advocacy work. The WEA is an HIV/AIDS intervention program targeting HIV-positive women who are interested in disclosing but have not, due to stigma and other related concerns. The 4-week intervention focuses on HIV disclosure, self-empowerment to access resources within the community, increasing communication skills with healthcare providers, and increasing overall self-efficacy in living with HIV/AIDS.
Forty-one (41) women to date have completed the WEA from Richland, Lexington, Charleston Hampton/Jasper/Beaufort (Low Country), Sumter and Florence (Pee Dee).
The publication and distribution of We Believe”, the first and only statewide advocacy book, Public Service Announcements and Poster created and distributed by WLWHA in the state.
PV remains the only HIV/AIDS advocacy group targeting HIV positive women in the state of South Carolina and region at-large. Given the history over the past three years of establishing and building the PV network and SCHAC’s 20 years experience working with and advocating for local communities, SCHAC and the PV team are well poised to build on its current successes with the integration of a human rights and a reproductive justice framework to HIV advocacy within the state.