By Debbie Hall
According to the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services in 2010, more than 17 percent of those living with HIV or AIDS are women. This statistic does not take into account women who have a loved one living with HIV or AIDS in their lives. This is one reason Mothers, Sisters & Daughters support group was created by Aid for AIDS of Nevada in 2009 for women affected by HIV/AIDS—whether themselves or someone close to them.
According to JeKeissa Mosley, lead case manager for AFAN, the group was started as a forum for HIV-positive women and female members of their support systems to become educated about HIV/AIDS and share information on how to access care and supportive services. The group was founded in the belief that this information would also increase compliance with medical care and treatment.
“The group continues to provide a safe, caring environment for women to educate, empower and encourage one another. The sessions foster an environment of respect, self-acceptance and non-judgment,” said Mosley, “Mothers, Sisters & Daughters offers a place where once a month for two hours it’s all about her—the mother, the sister, the daughter. The topics discussed range from dating, raising children and favorite foods to T-cell counts, medication side effects and disclosure. Many times HIV may not be discussed at all.”
While an HIV diagnosis is what brought these women together it does not define who they are. There are sisters in the group who received their diagnosis during a pregnancy, after saying “I Do” or on what they were told was their death bed. The average person may not have been able to exhibit the strength, perseverance or spirit that these women embody. Each story is as unique as the woman who shares it.
While the support group is called Mothers, Sisters & Daughters, according to Mosley, “We have several women in the group who are married, engaged or who report to be in long-term relationships. There are several women who report to be in sero-discordant couples (where one member is HIV positive and the other is not).”
Mothers, Sisters & Daughters members are all over 18 years of age. Community Counseling Center offers individual and family counseling for those affected and infected by HIV. There is no cost for Mothers, Sisters & Daughters and meetings are held once a month at the AFAN location, usually the third Wednesday or Thursday at 10 a.m. At this time, participants do need to be current clients with AFAN.