The Women Rising Project (WRP) is a program for women with HIV and AIDS in central Texas operating through AIDS Services of Austin, Inc. WRP is dedicated to nurturing leadership, fostering self-empowerment, promoting health, improving quality of life, building community, and advocacy for HIV+ women and their families. We work to strengthen women with HIV and AIDS through programs and activities that provide education, connection, support, empowerment and advocacy.
Project staff and an Advisory Board organize activities, which include retreats, support groups, and peer-based treatment education program (Rising Star University), health seminars, socials and advocacy activities. The WRP also routinely produces its Rising Times newsletter.
By providing HIV-positive women a nurturing place to seek support, the Project can help them come out of isolation and build their knowledge, skills and confidence. Women Rising members can learn to become their own best advocates with medical and other service providers and effect change in the community and their own lives. Through the Project, women can strengthen their self-sufficiency skills, realize their potential, become role models for each other, and serve as what one member describes as the “visible voice” of HIV-positive women.
Additional information about the Women Rising Project is available through our brochure.
The Women Rising Project was founded in 1995 by Sylvia Lopez, Project Director, and Mary Moreno, an HIV+ Latina activist, in response to the crippling isolation that results from stigma. From the beginning, the Project committed to address the unique health education and support needs of HIV+ women.
In 1995, the Project organized its first retreat that brought 22 women together. In 2001, the WRP organized a peer-based HIV education program, Rising Star University and launched its newsletter, Rising Times. In 2002, thanks to a grant from the Ms. Foundation for Women, the Project added part-time peer staff positions. In 2006, the Project began implementation of a peer education and advocacy program call the Lotus Project Austin that will partner trained peer advocates with HIV+ women to bring them into care and/or help them remain in care through one-on-one support and guidance.
Read about the experiences of some of the Women Rising Project members: