Fight HIV/AIDS by Empowering Women in South Africa

by Positive Women's Network (PWN)
Big news from Positive Women's Network!  They've just been selected to be THE civil society partner for the Conference Committee for AIDS 2014 and AIDS 2016.

This is huge news that means that PWN that YOU are supporting can reach more women throughout South Africa. This kind of visibility is vital. Thank you for supporting lasting change in empowering women to fight HIV/AIDS. Your support has made victories like the one below possible!
The June 11th announcement from the International AIDS Society reads:

On behalf of the International AIDS Conference permanent partners, the International AIDS Society (IAS) would like to welcome Positive Women’s Network, South Africa to be the new civil society partner for AIDS 2014 and AIDS 2016.

Positive Women’s Network, South Africa, established in 1996, is a non-government organization committed to create an environment in which people living with HIV/AIDS are free from stigmatization and discrimination because of their HIV status. The network recognizes that people living with and/or affected by HIV/AIDS should share the lead and the responsibility in responding to the pandemic, while encouraging the society to create the space for them to play
this crucial role. The organization works to set up and manage care and support programmes, harness and build resources, build capacity, support and monitor developmental initiatives to improve the quality of life of women and children infected and affected by HIV/AIDS throughout Africa. The network won a Red Ribbon Award in Vienna (AIDS 2010) for its work.

Ms. Mabele is the founder of the network in South Africa and is a founding member of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), as well as the National Association of People Living with HIV and AIDS of South Africa (NAPWA) and the South African National AIDS Council. She has been living positively with HIV for 22 years and has been a
prominent South African activist and an expert in the field of HIV and AIDS since 1992.

Facilitator Nelisiwe Npinya
Facilitator Nelisiwe Npinya

Thanks to your contributions Postive Women's Network was able to hold HIV treatment literacy trainings for those dealing with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Provided are pictures from two such trainings.  One training, held in September, focused on Human Anatomy and how HIV affects the body.  The other training, held in November, was aimed at educating grandmothers of AIDS orphans on the basic health needs of the children. It also gave them information on the importance of adherence to medication and the different opportunistic infections to look out for in the cases where the children were HIV-positive.

Take a look at pictures from two of the trainings to see your generosity in action!

Discussing HIV/AIDS treatment
Discussing HIV/AIDS treatment
Full house for HIV treatment literacy training
Full house for HIV treatment literacy training
PWN HIV treatment training
PWN HIV treatment training
Gogo's (Granny) HIV treatment literacy training
Sharing at Gogo
Sharing at Gogo's HIV literacy training

PWN is working together with HIV and AIDS affected women and girls to reduce HIV stigma and discrimination by providing equitable access to information; counseling and support services; and a better understanding and protection of individuals' rights. Through empowerment and advocacy PWN is pushing women's rights to the forefront and giving them a platform in which their voices can be heard!

Support Group Coordinators Lead Meetings to Address High Rates of Rape

PWN recently held a gathering to celebrate the international event, African Women's Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights Day. The gathering was led by PWN support group coordinators in Wattvillle Township where 25 women were in attendance. The main topic of the meeting was rape – how to deal with a family member who has been raped and how to report a rape case.

The coordinators highlighted the low numbers of reported rape cases in South Africa (1 in 9 rapes are reported) and encouraged women and girls to fight through the stigma and difficulties associated with sexual assault. They also provided information of organizations which provide counseling for rape victims and would also advocate for justice for rape victims. Other topics discussed included breast and cervical cancer. Attendees were shown how to check for lumps in the breast and were also informed of the importance of pap smears and other vaginal examinations.

More training for HIV and AIDs counseling, treatment literacy and how to start support groups

Because of growing need for support for HIV/AIDS affected women and girls in South Africa, PWN has provided more training in basic HIV and AIDS and counselling; organized and hosted workshops on treatment literacy and how to start a support group; and disseminated information on HIV and AIDS in work places, schools, informal settlements and in communities.

PWN remains committed to working with women from disadvantaged communities who are affected by HIV/AIDS,
however, it comes with its own set of challenges.

When you support PWN, you help provide prevention and education projects and campaigns that will bring together women and girls living with HIV/AIDS to fight for change!

Since its inception, PWN’s outreach work has influenced the lives of many women, helping them become productive members of society rather than simply victims of HIV and AIDS.  PWN has plans to further expand into additional areas in the Gauteng Province of South Africa. Currently they operate only in four of the nine areas within that province. Ultimately, their goal is to continue with more training campaigns targeting communities’ acceptance of those with HIV/AIDS and to arm more women with the courage to speak out and to take steps towards living healthier and more productive lifestyles for themselves, their families, and their communities.    

 Recently, PWN facilitated a group of Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) workshops along with other organizations to update community leaders of progress made by the government towards achieving its MDG’s.

 Workshops were presented in 4 of the 9 provinces of South Africa: Kwa Zulu Natal, Limpopo, Bloemfontein and Mpumalanga. PWN led discussions on the following MDGs: 

  • Reduction of child mortality
  • Improving maternal health
  • Combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and other diseases

Through these workshops PWN was able to reach over 4000 people from different communities.

 PWN also held a gathering to celebrate the international event, African Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights Day. The gathering was led by PWN support group coordinators and about 25 women were in attendance. The main topic of the meeting was Rape – How to deal with a family member who has been raped and how to report a rape case. The coordinators highlighted the low numbers of reported rape cases in South Africa (only one in nine rapes are reported in SA) and also encouraged women and girls to fight through the stigma and difficulties associated with sexual assault. They also disseminated information about organizations who provide counseling for rape victims and advocate for justice for rape victims.

Despite the success of PWN’s outreach programs, campaigns and workshops they still need your donations to help strengthen their services so that they can continue to care for, support and empower women living with HIV/AIDS.

Last week in Dakar, Senegal at the World Social Forum, PWN presented on the socioeconomic factors impacting HIV/AIDS treatment for women in Africa. It was an exciting chance for PWN to extend it's work in HIV/AIDS activism and community organizing to a global audience.

Founded in 1996 by Prudence Mabele, PWN operates in townships outside of Johannesburg to provide support to HIV-positive women and to raise awareness within the greater community. A prominent AIDS activist, Mabele was one of the first women in South Africa to publicly disclose her HIV-positive status.

Years after Mabele’s bold gesture, PWN continues to encourage other HIV-positive women to “come out” about their HIV status and form support groups to address discrimination. The group also provides resources regarding access to treatment and Anti-Retroviral drugs, outreach on accurate HIV/AIDS information and strategies for supporting orphaned and vulnerable children.

And on July 12, 2010 the United Nations Development Fund honored PWN with a Red Ribbon award in recognition of PWN’s outstanding community leadership and action on AIDS.

Despite it's successes, PWN needs continued support from the global community in order to expand its reach and help more people. By donating to this project you contributing to important work in social justice for women and children in South Africa affected by HIV/AIDS and in their communities and homes.


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Organization Information

Positive Women's Network (PWN)

Location: San Francisco, CA - South Africa
Website: http:/​/​​partner.php?partner_id=24
Project Leader:
Gillian Wilson
IDEX Latin America Program Director
San Francisco, CA United States

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