Non-Profit Spotlight: The Women’s Collective
The Women’s Collective story began in 1987. Founder and Executive Director Patricia Nalls lost her husband and 3-year-old daughter to AIDS within six months of each other and then learned she was HIV positive. At this time, however, very few services were designed for women in the D.C. area living with HIV/AIDS. The services in the area were catered mainly to gay men. As a single mother, she faced enormous challenges, from how to disclose her status to her children, how to deal with the grief her children were experiencing, and who would take care of them if something happened to her. Rather than allowing the anxiety and despair to define her, Patricia turned them into a determination to live.
In 1990, she set up a private phone line in her home for women living with HIV to share their struggles and concerns. Soon the number of women increased, and she turned the phone line into a confidential support group named the Coffee House, where the women came together to laugh, cry, share stories, and gain strength from each other. In 1995 a volunteer suggested the group incorporate the Coffee House into a non-profit organization, which is when The Women’s Collective was born.
TWC meets the needs of low-income women, girls, and families living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS and other STDs by addressing the social determinants of health and health disparities they face, reducing barriers to care and services, strengthening networking of support to improve health outcomes and the overall quality of life.
TWC has five main goals, consisting of:
- Prevent new infections
- Identify HIV-positive individuals sooner
- Bring newly identified HIV-positive individuals into high-quality care as quickly as possible
- Support retention in care
- Reduce disparities among women and girls disproportionately affected by HIV via advocacy.
The Women’s Collective Work
This work aims to ensure effective and efficient access to care, services, and resources for women and girls living with HIV/AIDS and their families. TWC aims to provide compassionate, empowering, and non-judgmental family care and support services in a culturally appropriate context. The care is flexible to the needs of each woman, girl, and family to increase everyone’s sense of self-worth and ensure effective treatment.
Medical Case Management
TWC’s medical case management program targets women, specifically women of color living with HIV/Aids, 18+, and residing in the DMV area. It provides referrals to doctors and support services to meet individual and family needs.
Prevention with Positives
This program offers women HIV and hepatitis C screening services in a mobile van to alleviate transportation barriers.
Community Health Workers
This program connects women and families to medical care and safety net services in the DMV area.
Early Intervention Specialist
TWC’s early intervention specialists create campaigns aimed at prevention, early intervention, and access to treatment. They also offer tools and referrals for obtaining PrEP to prevent HIV transmission.
WIC began as a phone line, and that service remains in place, offering women support groups and a safe place.
Referrals & Support Services
WIC’s in-house services include a mental health provider, testing, coaching for treatment adherence, and case management services. They also connect women with medical care, food pantries, housing assistance, and more, including hot meals, a drop-in resource center, and holiday celebrations.
TWC is focused on HIV prevention and promoting resiliency among women and girls. Should a positive HIV result arise, they offer a continuum of care and referrals to ensure optimal medical treatment and care retention. TWC prides itself on educating women to control their care and plan for their futures.
HIV Prevention Care Continuum
This program focuses on the early identification of HIV. It offers support from community health workers using a service model of medical case management (MCM), treatment adherence support, peer-based mentoring, and support groups.
Test & Link to Care Services
TWC encourages all women and girls ages 13 and above to know their HIV status by offering women-centered HIV/Hep C testing, HIV education, and a variety of safer sex tools and resources. The Test & Link to Care Services includes comprehensive discussions with customers at greatest risk of contracting HIV, navigation to medical and support services for those with a positive result, navigation to PREP and PEP providers, and promotion of continual engagement, treatment, and education.
Youth Prevention Program
The prevention program includes outreach and testing for HIV, hepatitis C, referrals for STI testing, condom distribution, PrEP, and PEP.
Education and Awareness
TWC provides education and awareness activities to support girls, women, and families. This includes PrEP for prevention, post-exposure, female condom workshops, and training.
Help, Empowerment, and Resources is a program to reduce the number of HIV transmissions in high-risk communities of Washington DC Wards 5, 7, 8, and Prince George’s County, Maryland.
To access TWC’s Youth Resources, click here.
Click here to access TWC’s resources for Women, including general health, pregnancy testing, care, prevention, and more.
TWC offers a list of resources for advocates, including AIDS.gov, Center for HIV Law and Policy, Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP), The Health Policy Project, GILEAD HIV, and more. Click here to view all the advocates’ resources.
The Women’s Collective Toolkit: Women Taking Power Over HIV/AIDS was created in 2009 with funding from the Ford Foundation. The toolkit highlights a successful model centered around a blueprint for agencies to adopt, including HIV Care Management, Prevention, Policy, Advocacy, and Administration. To download the toolkit, click here.
TWC accepts donations through PayPal, Debit, or Credit Cards. You can also set up monthly recurring donations. To donate, click here.
If you want to become an intern or volunteer at The Women’s Collective, email them at [email protected].