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WNCAP Celebrates Female HIV/AIDS Advocates During Women's History Month
March is Women's History Month, and WNCAP is celebrating by highlighting a few - but certainly not all - of the women who have been instrumental in improving the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS through public advocacy. Below, find out more about some of the most inspiring female HIV/AIDS advocates. Can you think of one or more amazing women we missed? Email with your nominee.
Dawn Averitt
Averitt founded the Well Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making the lives of women living with HIV/AIDS better and to reducing transmission by promoting treatment and prevention for women. She has served on PACHA and is on the Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council. In 2000, Averitt hiked the length of the Appalachian Trail—Trekking with AIDS—to foster awareness about HIV.
Cecilia Chung
As the first transgender woman to be appointed health commissioner for the city of San Francisco, Cecilia Chung attained recognition for expediting a law requiring the city to pay for gender reassignment surgery for uninsured transgender patients. She also served on President Obama's Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) and is Deputy Director of the Transgender Law Center. She continues to advocate for human rights, social justice, health equality, and other issues affecting the LGBT community. Pretty impressive, considering she had been homeless for 3 years after losing her job. “What launched my own advocacy path was my desire to survive as a trans woman, an immigrant, and a person of color living with HIV,” Chung says. "Next time when you see or hear me, please keep in mind that there are hundreds and thousands of stories from other HIV-positive women waiting to be heard.”
Elizabeth Glaser
Elizabeth Glaser rose to prominence in the HIV/AIDS movement after contracting HIV from a blood transfusion in 1981. She later unknowingly passed the virus to her daughter via breastmilk. For these reasons, Glaser became a vocal activist on behalf of children who contract HIV, forming the Pediatric AIDS Foundation to help prevent HIV in children. Her speech at the 1992 Democratic National Convention is widely considered to be a major landmark in how HIV entered the mainstream political discourse.
Monique Howell-Moree
After contracting HIV while in the military and pregnant with her third child, Howell-Moree was indicted for nondisclosure, although she urged her partner to use a condom and he never contracted the virus. Her memoir, Living Inside My Skin of Silence, grew out of this experience, and she has testified on Capitol Hill a number of times in support of reforming HIV criminalization laws. She is the founder and CEO of Monique’s Hope for Cure Outreach Services, which tackles HIV-related health disparities in rural South Carolina, her home state.
Mathilde Krim
Mathilde Krim was instrumental in helping to de-stigmatize people living with HIV/AIDS during the worst days of the epidemic. An accomplished research physician, Krim utilized her wide circle of influential friends to raise money and awareness about the growing epidemic. In response to a sluggish public health bureaucracy, Dr. Krim and a small circle of other activists founded amFAR, the American Foundation for AIDS Research (now called the Foundation for AIDS Research). Dr. Krim was amFAR’s Founding Chairman, and Elizabeth Taylor became its first International Chairman. A host of other celebrities, including Warren Beatty and Woody Allen, would later lend their star power to help mobilize resources for AIDS research.
Paige Rawl
Indiana native Paige Rawl found out she had congenital HIV in the fifth grade. Two weeks after telling a friend she was HIV-positive, bullies (many former friends) at her middle school began calling her “PAIDS” and harassing her because of her status. Administrators and teachers were no help, and her soccer coach told her it’d be an advantage because opposing teams wouldn’t want to touch her. By eighth grade, Rawl took to public speaking about her condition to relieve the stress from HIV bullying and stigma. In her teens, she became the American Red Cross’ youngest certified HIV/AIDS educator and helped convince the Indiana general assembly to pass antibullying laws. She also made a Nickelodeon documentary for World AIDS day and wrote a memoir called Positive. Not bad for someone who just turned 22.
Edith Springer
As a former injection heroin user, Edith Springer had a special window into the struggles faced by People Who Inject Drugs (PWID). She is sometimes known as the Mother of Harm Reduction for her pioneering work in New York in the 1980s. "Harm reduction is a way of life," says Springer, who would become the clinical director of the New York Peer AIDS Education Coalition. "It's a way of reducing harm or risk in any practice in which you're involved."
Lisa Tiger
Tiger is a powerful HIV-positive Native American AIDS educator and advocate. A national speaker on HIV issues, she won the Woman of Courage award from the National Organization for Women along with honors from amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research. She has survived more hardship—including a Parkinson’s disease diagnosis and the tragic loss of her brother and her adopted daughter—than most people, but she remains committed to HIV education in the Native American community.
Stand Up For Children's Rights
Our VOICE Will Host Elizabeth Smart on March 8
Fifteen years after her abduction, Elizabeth Smart shares her story at an event entitled “Elizabeth Smart: Where There’s Hope, There’s Healing” in Asheville at a ticketed event and fundraiser for Our VOICE, Buncombe County’s rape crisis and prevention center. On International Women’s Day, March 8th, 2018, on the campus of A-B Tech, Elizabeth Smart will discuss her healing journey that transformed her from survivor to thriver.
“Elizabeth Smart’s inspirational story serves as an example of how communities can create and support resiliency from sexual trauma,” says Angélica Reza Wind, Our VOICE’s executive director. “She has shown us that there is life after trauma, and that healing is possible.”
Smart’s abduction, described as “one of the most followed child abduction cases of our time,” occurred on June 5, 2002, when she was taken from her home in Salt Lake City at the age of 14 and held prisoner for 9 months. During that time, Smart was repeatedly raped and abused. After her rescue, Smart testified before her abductor and in front of the nation, sharing the terrible and private details of her ordeal. This testimonial led to her captor’s conviction. Since then, she has founded the “Elizabeth Smart Foundation,” the mission of which is to “prevent future crimes against children but to address victims, survivors and families with the resources and community they need to encourage hope and empower their future.”
Smart published the New York Times best-selling book, My Story and in March 2018 is releasing her new book: Where There’s Hope: Healing, Moving Forward, and Never Giving Up. She was featured on A&E in a two-part series, Elizabeth Smart: Autobiography, which premiered Nov. 12, and in the Lifetime movie I am Elizabeth Smart, which premiered Nov. 18. She is 30 years old and is married with two children.
“Elizabeth Smart: Where There’s Hope, There’s Healing” will take place on Thursday, March 8, at 7pm, at the AB Tech Mission Health Conference Center - 16 Victoria Road, in Asheville. Tickets are nearly sold out, so get yours today.
Dining Out For Life
Volunteer as an Ambassador for Dining Out For Life
There's still time to volunteer as an "Ambassador" for Dining Out For Life. On Thursday, April 26, over 100 restaurants in Western North Carolina will donate 20% of their proceeds to WNCAP to use for HIV Prevention and Care. Diners also have an opportunity to give an additional donation to WNCAP, and in the process enter a raffle for three grand prizes. As a matter of fact, the majority of support that WNCAP receives on Dining Out For Life comes from these individual donations. And that's why Ambassadors are so important.
As an Ambassador, your job is to fill your Participating Restaurant with as many friends, family, neighbors and colleagues that you can call. Then, on the day of the event, you will greet diners to explain the purpose of Dining Out For Life and inquire if they would like to provide additional support and enter the raffle. These interactions are critical to the success of the event. And, it's a fun and unique way of giving back to the community and "hosting" your friends at your favorite restaurant.
Slots for DOFL Ambassadors are filling up fast, so be sure to check out the list of available "shifts" today. You can also email Chris at or call (828) 252-7489 ext. 315 for additional information.
The Opioid Crisis
Needle Exchange Program of Franklin Provides Harm Reduction Services in Western North Carolina
If you live in Macon County, or anywhere in far Western North Carolina, you should check out the Needle Exchange Program of Franklin for harm reduction supplies, including sterile syringes and life-saving nasal naloxone (Narcan). It is located at 3261 Georgia Road in Franklin, NC. It is open two days a week: Tuesdays, from 5pm-6:30pm, and Saturdays, from 12pm-2pm
The Needle Exchange Program of Franklin is a joint project by WNCAP and Full Circle Recovery Center. They recently hosted a Harm Reduction Tea Party that brought together members of the community to discuss common issues related to addiction and recovery and to engage in productive harm reduction work, including putting together over 700 overdose-reversal kits. 
Model Behavior
Planned Parenthood Asheville's "Condom Couture" is on March 10
Get tickets now for Asheville's most unique fashion show. Planned Parenthood Asheville's annual "Condom Couture" fashion show is on Saturday, March 10, at The Orange Peel. The event will start at 7pm, with a VIP Reception beginning an hour earlier. The official Condom Couture Afterparty will take place at LaZoom Room immediately following the event.
This year's theme is "Design Through the Decades" so be prepared to see some prophylactic bell bottoms and latex leg warmers. Local designers use condoms to create fashionable, wearable art, promoted safe sex, and benefit Planned Parenthood South Atlantic.
WNCAP will be hosting a table at the event, so be sure to stop by for educational resources and, yes, condoms. Maybe you will be inspired to make your own wearable piece of HIV prevention?
Tickets are running out fast, so get yours now!
Save The Date
National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is March 10
National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is an annual observance that sheds light on the impact of HIV and AIDS on women and girls. Every year on March 10, and throughout the month of March, national and community organizations come together to show support for women and girls impacted by HIV and AIDS. This year marks the 12th observance of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
Today, about one in four people living with HIV in the United States is female. Only about half of women living with HIV are getting care, and only four in 10 of them have the virus under control. Women face unique HIV risks and challenges that can prevent them from getting needed care and treatment. Addressing these issues remains critical to achieving an HIV- and AIDS-free generation.
HIV History
AZT Introduced on March 19, 1987
Exactly 31 years ago, on March 19, 1987 (Although some sources say March 20) HIV history was made when the FDA approved azidothymidine, or AZT for short. AZT was the first FDA-approved antiretroviral medication for the treatment of HIV. It works by inhibiting the reverse transcriptase enzyme that the HIV virus needs to replicate itself in the human body.
AZT transformed the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS. Prior to antiretroviral medications, HIV was basically a death sentence. Doctors could treat some of the symptoms of AIDS, but could not reverse the devastating progress of the virus itself. AZT and medications like it could stop the growth of the HIV virus before it developed into AIDS.
AZT did not work for everyone, and some individuals became treatment-resistant to the medication after a period of time. Many people also suffered serious side effects, from nausea and headaches to severe liver and blood disorders. Even so, AZT saved a lot of people's lives, and it set the foundation for thirty years of progressively better HIV medications. So, happy birthday, AZT! We look forward to a time when we will never need your help again.
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Western North Carolina AIDS Project  |  554 Fairview Rd.  |  Asheville, NC 28803
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