Today | ICW | International Community of Women living with HIV


ICW Today

ICW represents women living with HIV, in all our diversity. It’s their voice. We exist in 120 countries and, moreover, in 10 regional networks: Asia Pacific, Caribbean, Central Africa, East Africa, Europe and Central Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), North America Southern Africa, and West Africa. We are devoted to addressing the various forms of oppression that HIV-positive women face around the world. We maintain a bottom-up strategy in which the opinions of our members drive our agenda because we believe that the experiences of our members should inform what we do and how we do it. The practical requirements and aims of our members are translated by ICW Global (our International Steering Committee (ISC) and Global Office) into strategies and actions that help us achieve our advocacy goals and objectives. In order to address the fundamental issues affecting women living with HIV and secure our needs, rights, and hopes, we collaboratively confront the essential structures, institutions, policies, and programs in the HIV response and beyond.

We are a women’s organization, with a highly skilled membership, who use a gender framework and feminist analysis to understand our challenges and determine solutions.

We have big hearts and a strong desire to change the world for women living with HIV. We speak to women and mobilize them to action as the only global network for women living with HIV by women living with HIV. This is our strength. While gender inequalities may create disparities outside our network, inside ICW, it is gender that brings us together creating a safe place for us to share stories and experiences.

ICW is still the only network maintained by and for women living with HIV today, more than 20 years later. The ICW network has more than 15,000 members who contribute to our agenda, volunteer to share their own stories, and create support networks in their local communities. The common experience of living with HIV among our members and the desire to fight for our rights, our health, and the rights of other women living with HIV binds us together.

ICW has been a collective force for women living with HIV that has gained respect and credibility over its 20-year history. ICW has established a strong presence in global forums earning a voting seat on the International AIDS Conference Coordinating Committee and Consultative Status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Our global advocacy program advocates for the needs of women, young women, adolescents and girls living with HIV in key global decision making spaces and ensures that women living with HIV have a voice in development of policy that affects our lives.

ICW’s advocacy has brought to light critical human rights abuses experienced by women living with HIV including violations of sexual and reproductive rights such as forced and coerced sterilization, and addressed the critical issues of stigma and discrimination, criminalization, domestic violence and other forms of private and institutionalized violence against women living with HIV. Our efforts have spurred litigation, action and a global dialogue about the human and sexual, reproductive health rights of women living with HIV.

Recognizing that ICW is also part of a broader movement for health and women’s rights, the network also established strategic alliances with other women‘s networks and organizations, including key players in the fight against HIV and AIDS and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) around the world.

ICW Global has mentored and supported regional networks to be established under the ICW umbrella. These regional networks have given women the ability to advocate for their specific regional issues while being supported by the larger global networks to push issues. In addition to this, in 2011 ICW began the first international Chapter for Young Women, Adolescents and Girls, building off of ICW’s history of Young Women’s Dialogues. This chapter has created a space for young women to advocate for their unique rights, while being mentored by other women in the HIV movement. It also recognizes the diversity of needs of women living with HIV along the continuum of their lifespan.

ICW has conducted research, produced and provided input to many publications over the years – often to fill the gap on issues facing women living with HIV. Some of these publications include:

  • The Positive Women’s Survival Kit which was translated into Spanish, French and Portuguese
  • Understanding the perspectives and/ or experiences of women living with HIV regarding Option B+ in Uganda and Malawi. A research report in partnership with GNP+.
  • Diamonds: Stories of Women from the Asia Pacific Network of People Living with HIV Asia and the Pacific. ICW follow this effort with reports to the Commission on the Status of Women highlighting forced and coerced sterilization and abortion across the Asia Pacific Region.
  • Vital Voices: Finding from consolations of people living with HIV on the prevention of vertical transmission. A research report in partnership with GNP+.
  • ICW newsletter in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese and distributed globally.

See also

  • History

    Established in 1992 by women living with HIV in response to the consistent silencing and marginalizing of the concerns of women living with HIV.

  • The Future

    The way forward.