This Fall marks the 20th anniversary of WHP.
When we opened our doors in 1993, we were the first program in the nation dedicated specifically to caring for HIV-positive women. During this time, we have been dedicated to supporting our patients to realize their inherent health, power, and voice. Over the past five years, WHP has realized its voice and broad potential impact in the world: to pioneer a model of care that allows all women and girls to heal from trauma and prevent further violence as a core part of their primary care.
There are recent examples of the strength and influences of WHP’s influential voice. I was honored to speak at the White House in November of 2012 to the President’s Interagency Federal Working Group on the Intersection of HIV/AIDS, Violence against Women and Girls, & Gender-Related Health Disparities. The final report of this working group was released on September 6, 2013 and included research findings from WHP as well as specific recommendations for action advocated for by WHP and its partners. We have also assumed a national leadership role creating a new model of trauma informed primary care. On August 22-23, WHP convened a high-level strategy meeting at the Aspen Institute in Washington DC that included key representatives from various government, academia, community-based organizations, and leaders from the HIV-positive women’s community to design the elements of this new model and develop a strategy for widely disseminating it.
Challenges and Opportunities Ahead
There are, however, a number of challenges at hand. The Ryan White Congressional Federal grants that have supported the program for 20 years will stay flat-funded again this year, at best, and we predict that these funds will become increasingly unreliable. The new call for greatly expanded HIV testing from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will result in an increase in newly diagnosed women seeking care. The epidemic continues to affect more and more women, especially women of color. Many of the San Francisco’s surviving pediatric cases are rapidly approaching adolescence, a time when the program seeks to assume full care of them. As such, the program is faced with the need to serve more people with fewer resources.
Much of our recent success is due to the passion and activism of the members of our Advisory Committee and the generosity of individual and foundation donors. In addition, our increasing research and national influence have created many new opportunities for partnerships, funding, and growth. I am sincerely grateful that I work alongside such dedicated and compassionate people. Together, we will ensure that vulnerable women and families affected by HIV receive every opportunity to lead healthy and successful lives.
May you and your families have a healthy and prosperous fall of 2013!
Eddy Machtinger, MD