ATLANTA — On this year’s National Women and Girls’ HIV and AIDS awareness day, one focus is the disproportionate impact on black women who make up 54% of new infections among women. But one Atlanta organization has tailored its focus to that demographic.
A 26-year-old Atlanta woman is maintaining her privacy, but shared her story with Channel 2′s Candace McCowan.
“I have been living with HIV since I was about 12 years old. I was unfortunately in a sex trafficking situation a long time ago.” she said. “At that moment I kind of just was like numb.”
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Recently, she’s found herself at Grady’s Ponce Center joining a program called Black Women Organized for Wellness. also knowns as B.WOW.
“We have newly-diagnosed, and we have people have been living with (HIV) status for a while,” said B.WOW program manager Allanah Lewis-Cherry.
B.WOW is focused on treating Black women who are HIV positive. With a small staff, they make personal connections with the help of an app to ensure their clients take their medications.
“They ask the ladies to log whether they took their medication for the day they log their stress level and their mood,” Lewis-Cherry said .
The program extends beyond the clinical setting to treat each woman’s emotional, physical, and mental health, as well as other needs by helping the participants find jobs, housing, clothing, and offering support on every level.
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“If my mood is not doing well, I’m not going to remember to take my medication. If I’m stressed, I’m not even thinking about it,” said Lewis-Cherry. “Our ladies are getting virally suppressed. They are reaching an undetectable viral load.”
For the 26-year-old, B.WOW is the reason she can focus on the future.
“I have goals to own my own farm one day, so I can be able to help other women,” she said.
Of the 101 women enrolled, the group has not only seen improved viral load suppression, but also decreased food insecurity and homelessness.
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