Cyndi Lauper came to visit PW on the 1st of March. I waited to blog about it because I wanted a nice picture to go with it: and here we are Angelina Namiba, Cyndi and I, looking glam.
Cyndi Lauper and Lady Gaga are spoke people for Viva Glam. Viva Glam is a line of make up products by MAC that gives all its profits to the MAC AIDS Fund,which is one of the biggest private AIDS fund in the world, I think only second to Bill Gates’.
Well, the radical activist within me can’t help making some mental cynical comments about setting up an AIDS Fund as a clever marketing strategy. I say this from personal experience: every time I have been to buy a Viva Glam lipstick I always end up with at least another couple of products. Obviously, I also have a very vain glam compelled side, so I was very excited of having a make over by MAC make up artists and meet Cyndi Lauper. I have also to admit that as much as I am suspicious of capitalism, it is brave for such an high profile company to choose to support such an unpopular cause as HIV and AIDS.
On the day many of PW volunteers and staff came to participate to the event. Many of us didn’t dare standing in front of the camera. But Angelina, Charity and I were interviewed by Cindy on the challenges we face as women living with HIV, even in a country like the UK. The interview has apparently been broadcast on CNN and Sky News, but I have not been able to see it.
MAC AIDS Fund has donated £50,000 to Positively Women to support a project providing peer support and leadership skills to women who are HIV+ and pregnant or want to become pregnant, Angelina will be the project manager.
Many women get diagnosed HIV positive while they are pregnant, this is because when you are pregnant you are always offered a test. As much as this is a positive thing, because it will allow the future mothers to access treatment and information which will decrease the chance of passing HIV to their babies to less then 1%, it is also the worst time of your life to receive an HIV diagnosis. Imagine having to deal with discovering you have an incurable, potentially fatal, sexually transmitted disease and at the same time preparing to give birth and welcome a new life. You will be thorn so deeply by very contrasting feelings: joy for the baby, fear of sickness, fear to let others know and be judged, feeling isolated etc. Even if the chances of transmission are so low- you will be filled with worry, you will have to make difficult decisions about whether to have cesarean section, not breastfeeding etc.. Meeting another woman who lives with HIV is extremely important for those women so that they can gain strength, hope, and a vision of a fulfilled life with HIV. At PW we also hope that the new Sexual Health Strategy the Department of Health is developing for the next decade will include a recommendation to test women – or even better couples – who access contraception or conception services, so they can find out about their HIV status even before they get pregnant.
You can see more about policy recommendation on HIV and motherhood on ICW website