New online community aims to connect and support black women living with HIV

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Ranece Gordon said her research shows black women have to work harder to access health care.

That’s why she created ‘Black Women’s Visions’, an online community aimed at connecting HIV-positive black women and supporting them on their healthcare journey.

Gordon said she remembers suffering from eczema as a child and her mother was frustrated with the lack of help they received from their white doctors.

For her thesis, Gordon decided to dig deeper and found that black women often have to work harder to be taken seriously when they visit healthcare facilities.

“So that’s a big thing that came out of my thesis — that women do so much work to get ready for dates,” she said. “In my thesis, we talk a lot about women having to do research beforehand and women who bring other people with them on dates so that they feel they can assert themselves… Women change their tone . They dress differently.

She had followed a Twitter thread where black women gave each other advice on how to navigate the world of health.

“It was that tweet that kind of showed there was support, like pure support for black women online,” she said. “I want to facilitate this on a website, so that women don’t have to go to Twitter, for example, and search for black women’s Twitter hashtags or, you know, post this stuff and hope that someone one answers it.”

After her thesis, an assistant professor contacted her and helped her create Black Women’s Visions.

The professor had previous connections within the HIV healthcare system, so they decided to focus on helping these patients.

“Through networks and connections with other people, we realized that black women living with HIV were having a very hard time connecting to services and programs and other black women because of COVID,” he said. she declared.

Positive Living Niagara is one of the partner agencies of Black Women’s Visions. Jackie Barrett-Greene, Director of Education, Support and Volunteers for Positive Living, said approximately 38% of their 120 Niagara clients living with HIV are ACN (African, Caribbean, Black) and the majority of ‘among them are women.

“ACN women are at a higher systemic risk of contracting HIV; this is associated with social determinants of health, sexism, racism and transphobia,” Barrett-Greene said. “HIV-related stigma is compounded by the intersection of stigma, discrimination and oppression. »

Barrett-Greene said they were happy to support Black Women’s Visions.

“Having access to a safe space to connect with other women and get trusted information created by black women, for black women, is a crucial part of support,” she said.

For Gordon, she said the issue felt close to home.

“I remember…talking to friends of mine who are nurses or social workers saying, ‘I don’t want to go to the doctor’ or ‘I don’t have a doctor and I don’t want to can’t even find one. ,’” she said. “(It was) something I could relate to. And it was also something that I could do something about. Hence the virtual platform… People use online resources all the time. It’s something I could actually build.

To learn more or to get involved, visit bwvisions.ca.

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