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About Staying Positive

People living with HIV/AIDS speak out against stigma



With funding from a private family foundation and the Rocky Mountain Public Health Training Center, and in partnership with several organizations, StoryCenter is working with women living with HIV and AIDS, to support them in finding, telling, and creating their own digital stories. The emphasis is on personal healing, as well as on galvanizing communities to challenge stigma and educate the public about this often-overlooked dimension of the larger AIDS narrative.

Key partners include the Colorado Chapter of the Positive Women's Network and The Empowerment Program, which serves women living with HIV who have also been formerly incarcerated. These organizations are helping to design the program and recruit participants for workshops. Several staff at both organizations have also participated in workshops, as supporters and as storytellers.

The project partners are currently writing an online toolkit to accompany the stories, designed to help those who use them do so in ethical and productive ways that foster productive dialogue about the issues they raised raise. With the goal of reducing stigma in the general public and encouraging women who may not know they are living with HIV to get tested, the partners are also sharing the stories through social media campaigns.

The next round of the project for 2017 will focus on the stories of long-term survivors of HIV/AIDS and potentially on those of people who have recently been diagnosed, as a way of exploring the relationships between these two communities.


  • Dealing with stigma from family members
  • Dating post-diagnosis
  • Strength and personal acceptance: loving oneself and standing up for oneself and others
  • Working with women with HIV, and how they have made case workers better people (stronger, more aware, more informed, and more accepting)
  • Getting through the initial physical and emotional pain of testing positive
  • HIV as a wake-up call for improving one's life
  • Being born with HIV (caught between parents' fears of stigma, and one's own acceptance of HIV as a natural part of existence)


Positive Women's Network envisions a world where women living with HIV can live long, healthy, dignified and productive lives, free from stigma and discrimination. Our mission is to prepare and involve all women living with HIV, in all our diversity, including gender identity and sexual expression, in all levels of policy and decision-making.

The mission of the Empowerment Program is to provide education, employment assistance, health, housing referrals, and support services for women who are in disadvantaged positions due to incarceration, poverty, homelessness, HIV/AIDS infection, and/or involvement in the criminal justice system. Our goal is to decrease rates of recidivism by providing case management, support services, basic skills education, housing and resource coordination that can offer alternatives to habits and choices that may lead to criminal behaviors.

The Rocky Mountain Public Health Training Center was established in 2014 within the Center for Public Health Practice at the Colorado School of Public Health (CSPH). With funding from the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA), the RM-PHTC serves the states of Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming (Region VIII), and the 32 tribal nations located within this territory.  The RM-PHTC is committed to developing and supporting a high quality public health workforce that can improve population health. Our goals are to increase the functional knowledge and skills of the public health workforce and link public health and health care sectors to improve population health, as outlined in the Affordable Care Act.


Radio Interview About the project