am passionate about women's empowerment and
My name is Stephanie
Moore. I am the Director of Positive Women (Victoria) Inc - an organisation
that supports women living with HIV/AIDS.
I have been with
the organisation for five years, and became involved because I am passionate
about women's empowerment and women's ways. By this I mean: women
know how to do things, but often either get overshadowed by men, or believe
their way isn't the way. I love seeing that belief challenged and
see women growing and changing as their belief in themselves grows.
Here at Positive
Women, we have focused on two main strands supporting women already living
with the disease:
1. raising awareness
of HIV and
2. getting the prevention/education
message out to the general public.
We have developed
our own unique style of doing this, mainly by being as creative as possible,
using theatre, music, art and any other way to show the world we mean
business. We have built collaborative and cooperative relationships with
the Arts community in order for this to occur.
We have challenged
the myths and stereotypes of how people living with HIV should be. We
have our own Triathlon Team for example, where, we might not come in first
but we have come in second and third!
The usual image of
someone living with HIV is that they are sick, dying. We challenge those
What I am currently
seeing is more HIV positive women coming forward to be spokespeople, telling
their story as a woman living with HIV in this country. They have a different
story from that of HIV gay men.
Many people have
never thought that women can catch HIV, they have just never thought that
is a possibility. So when they hear these stories, meet these women, it
is a revelation.
Being with this organisation
has been hard at times. Often I have thought of leaving sometimes it has
all been too much, not only the illnesses but the politics within the
sector, the endless grind of trying to get others motivated so HIV is
back on the agenda. However no-one wants to see their friends, sisters,
children go through what this disease does to the body and mind. That
has motivated me to carry on.
Currently over 50%
of the worlds HIV population are women and children, that is, over 21
million women and children. It is so easy to become overwhelmed, helpless
and start to think of people as faceless statistics.
BUT every positive
person is a person with a story. Every HIV positive person is a person
with a family. I know many of these statistics - women, just like
you or me - that's why I want to ensure, as do our members, that no more
women become infected.