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Media + Events

Empowering Women to Tell their Story

14/04/2020

PWV’s peer project leader, Heather Ellis, delves into our new campaign.

Not all of us want to tell our stories. For some, we would never dream of discussing our HIV status in a magazine interview, on radio or on national television. And for others, we are at various stages of disclosing to our partners, mothers, fathers, siblings, children, our extended family and friends.

Then there are those of us entering new relationships and living with the anxiety of when to tell or maybe not tell at all in this new era of U=U. The Undetectable equals Untransmittable message that scientifically proves people living with HIV on antiretroviral treatments with an undetectable viral load cannot transmit HIV also means there is even less reason to live with those fears of rejection and internalised stigma that have shackled many of us for years. Once armed with the skills and confidence to tell our stories in whatever form these may take, we can move forward in our lives and relationships.

Positive Women Victoria’s Women And HIV: Tell The Story project funded by a grant from Gilead Sciences aims to empower women to feel confident to tell their own stories about their diverse lives living with HIV. This is an innovative eight-month peer lead project of activities that will focus on building resilience and confidence, and challenge stigma for women living with HIV. As a peer project leader, I will develop the four components of the project and I hope many of you will join me to share your stories of your diverse experiences, gain writing and public speaking skills and confidence, and also have fun together along the way.

Like some of us, you may decide to be public advocates in raising awareness and challenging HIV stigma within the general community. For others, you may choose to share your story anonymously or simply use the resources and your new-found confidence to tell your own story in your own way privately with family, friends, potential partners, employers or in a healthcare setting.

There are four components of the project and while Covid-19 means the group activities are on hold until social distancing orders are relaxed, other aspects of the project like written stories and the podcast with interviews via Skype audio can go ahead as planned.

Women And HIV: Tell The Story

  1. These Are Our Stories: A series of stories written by women living with HIV or as interviews in magazine-style features, a podcast series of five episodes and a video as a compilation of short interviews.
  2. Tell Her Story: A media kit to support journalistic writing about women living with HIV.
  3. Tell Your Story Workshop: A one-day media training, public speaking and storytelling workshop for women living with HIV.
  4. U=U Is Your Story Too: An educational public forum and peer-led panel focused on the U=U message proposed to be held on World AIDS Day on Tuesday, 1 December 2020.

If you are interested in telling your story or just being part of the project to gain skills and confidence, please contact Positive Women Victoria.