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SisterLove, Inc Celebrates 33 Years of Activism with New Mobile Testing Unit

Updated: Oct 6, 2022



33 Years of Reproductive Justice


This year marks 33 years of SisterLove’s dedication to representing Black women and all women in sexual and reproductive justice and health rights, especially as related to HIV.



“For women who were impacted by HIV at the time [of founding], there were no services for them. That’s why I started SisterLove – to provide those programs for women,” SisterLove Founder and President Dázon Dixon Diallo said in a recent interview.


That time was 1989, a period when little to no attention and resources were being given to women’s health in the midst of the HIV epidemic. In the mid-80s, Diallo worked at a feminist women’s health center that was not equipped to offer HIV programs and resources. Following Hollywood-star Rock Hudson’s announcement that he had HIV, the center became overwhelmed with calls from women concerned for their health with regards to the virus.


Dázon Dixon Diallo giving a community education workshop
Dázon Dixon Diallo giving a community education workshop

Inspired to address and represent those concerns, Diallo became a volunteer at HIV Atlanta to learn as much as possible and better assist women through the organization. Unfortunately, shortcomings in care that the organization could provide grew larger as women’s health became further embattled in politics during the Reagan administration. Diallo found her best efforts consistently undercut.


In response, Diallo started her own organization dedicated to representing the health needs of Black women. SisterLove was born as the first women’s HIV, Sexual and Reproductive Justice organization in the southeastern United States.


“And so just like a whole lot of people start organizations, mostly it's either out of anger because something is not being done when it should be or it’s simply because at that time somebody has to do something because nobody else is,” Diallo recounts.


“Both of those were the reasons that I got started doing the work of SisterLove [...] That's when I said okay, somebody's got to take this on, and that's what we did.”


33 years later, SisterLove continues to be an essential community, national , and international organization, expanding services to meet the needs of women in Atlanta, the Southeastern United States, and globally.


Making an Impact


Since its founding, SisterLove has made an impact through its health education and prevention programs, policy and advocacy, and its grassroots Healthy Love Workshop.


Diallo, the organization, and all of its staff and volunteers work to respond to fill the gaps in education, prevention, and support, and human rights advocacy when it comes to the impact of HIV and other reproductive health challenges.


One of the many significant resources provided by SisterLove is free HIV testing services to the community, which can be scheduled online for in-person appointments and at-home self-test kits.


In conjunction with its 33rd anniversary, SisterLove is further expanding its Atlanta free health testing services with the announcement of its new mobile testing program, the Healthy Love Mobile Bus.


Healthy Love Mobile Bus


The Healthy Love Mobile Bus is SisterLove’s new mobile health clinic, a service that will significantly increase access to HIV/STI testing to women across the Atlanta metropolitan area.



Free testing is a significant care resource for women, especially Black women, among the communities that SisterLove services. One out of every seven people in the U.S. are unaware that they are living with HIV, which prevents them from adopting proper risk reduction care.


HIV and STI testing, unfortunately, are still stigmatized in the U.S., especially among women. Even though one in five new HIV diagnoses are among women, they are less likely to get tested than men. Further, Black women and Black transgeneder women have higher rates of HIV than other demographics.


“Stigma is a core issue in HIV, especially around HIV education and engagement. Stigma is a euphemism, a container,” Diallo says.


“We need to talk about what really drives stigma: racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and gender inequality. Those are the real issues.”


In addition to access, SisterLove works to address that stigma through outreach programs that educate people on HIV care and provide a judgment-free zone for people to be comfortable with.



SisterLove, Inc conducts a Healthy Love Workshop
SisterLove, Inc conducts a Healthy Love Workshop

The Health Love Mobile Bus serves the important purpose of bringing important healthcare services directly to women of the Atlanta communities it serves. In doing so, the program also broadens SisterLove’s physical presence in those communities, creating more opportunities to engage with people and raise awareness around HIV healthcare.


Through expanded programs and health resources like these, SisterLove endeavors to continue to build on the work it has been providing for the past 33 years. At a time when women’s health and reproductive justice is under attack, SisterLove’s initiatives, programs, resources, and advocacy are critical to the rights and wellbeing of women and Black women across the country. The mobile bus is expected to roll in this August.


Celebrate our birthday and help us get on the road and donate to our Health on Wheels fundraiser!

 



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Renee Krug
Renee Krug
26 ก.ค. 2565

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