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By Caroline Bree: Board Chair
June is always a highlight in the Positive Women Inc. Board year; hearing the personal stories and research updates at the HIV Women’s Seminar and then relaxing and reconnecting with friends at the Retreat. Mark Hendrickson’s discussion about HIV and Shame was a powerful introduction to the Seminar and resonated with many of those attending. This was reinforced by the experiences of our members who have courageously battled stigma in the workforce and healthcare system. I particularly liked the reference to the ‘In valid’ benefit!
The Seminar also marked the launch of the new HIV Testing Campaign featuring our Board member and Secretary Heather. Sue McAllister presented the statistics for 2018 and although the decreasing number of new diagnoses for women (19) is great news, heterosexual women and men still have a much lower CD4 count at diagnosis, suggesting healthcare professional bias in offering testing. We are very proud of Heather for agreeing to be the new face for such an important campaign. It is daunting to be thrust into the media spotlight and also exposes one’s family to the misinformation prevalent in the wider community.
The AGM is an opportunity for the Board to report back to our members on the organisations’ activities during the year and to thank our National Coordinator, Jane and the Positive Women Inc. Operations team for their amazing work. Jane initiated a discussion about the challenges facing our organisation and our direction during the next Five Years. The smaller numbers of members actively participating in support events, has seen a change in focus from personal support to Health Promotion and education.
Members reaffirmed the importance of knowing that Positive Women Inc. is there for them when they need it and how therapeutic the Retreat is for those able to attend. Our members inspire us to find ways to continue to provide support despite diminishing funding. Finally, we are delighted to welcome our new Board member Enatha.