The Well Project is a non-profit organization whose mission is to change the course of the HIV/AIDS pandemic through a unique and comprehensive focus on women and girls. The Well Project envisions a world in which women living with or vulnerable to HIV have the information, support, and tools they need to advocate for their health and well-being, and live free from stigma.
Founded in 2002, The Well Project has become a recognized leader in the fight against HIV by revolutionizing the availability and accessibility of much-needed resources designed specifically for women living with and vulnerable to HIV and by prioritizing the advancement of women in all aspects of HIV prevention, treatment, and cure research and policy. The Well Project provides tools for women to build a foundation to not only survive, but also thrive with HIV. Reaching nearly four million users annually through our web portal and social media channels, The Well Project leverages technology to improve health outcomes and quality of life for women living with HIV.
The Well Project programming falls into the following five categories:
- Education and Information: The Well Project is committed to building agency and health literacy among women living with HIV by developing and providing access to culturally responsive, scientifically accurate, women-focused HIV information. We maintain a comprehensive library of nearly 200 fact educational sheets (English, Spanish, Hindi) and more than 60 slide sets (English, Spanish) that address a wide range of issues related to HIV and women's health.
- Community Support: The Well Project fosters a strong and engaged global network and community of women living with HIV. Our blogs, A Girl Like Me and Una Chica Como Yo, provide a safe space for women living with HIV to share experiences, connect with others, and build a strong support network. Programs such as Stay Well at Home with The Well Project and A Girl Like Me LIVE are led by women living with HIV and promote connection, education, and community support.
- Advocacy and Leadership: The Well Project offers a variety of programming that enhances advocacy and leadership development among women living with HIV, including webinars addressing topical issues; a strong presence at scientific, advocacy, and policy conferences; and ongoing opportunities to ensure women living with HIV are "at the table." Programs such as The Well Project Leadership Exchange provide novel opportunities to connect women living with HIV with leaders (top researchers, clinicians, and community leaders) who lift up women's voices across the HIV community.
- Collaborative Engagement: The Well Project develops mission-aligned partnerships to advance common goals, including more than 40 current collaborations with some of the most influential organizations in the field. These relationships elevate each other's work, provide collaborative opportunities, and ensure that all of our endeavors add value by uniquely addressing gaps in current programming and resources.
- Women-Focused Research: The Well Project identifies opportunities to advance the HIV research and policy agenda on women and ensure the implementation of evidence-based strategies, including the Women's Research Initiative on HIV/AIDS (WRI). The WRI (a multidisciplinary and multisectoral endeavor) is a key element of The Well Project's efforts to identify gaps for women in HIV prevention, treatment, and cure research and policy and to accelerate our understanding of HIV in women.
While women have historically been overlooked and under-addressed in the HIV epidemic, the numbers tell a different story. Women and girls represent more than half of all people living with HIV across the globe -- that's more than 18 million women and girls living with HIV. Among transgender women, the HIV epidemic is particularly severe. It is estimated that the global proportion of transgender women living with HIV is 49 times higher than in the general adult population, regardless of where they live.
In the US, women account for approximately one in four people living with HIV and one in five new HIV acquisitions. Black and Latina women, though they represent less than 30 percent of the general population, bear an extraordinary proportion of the burden of HIV – about eight out of 10 women living with HIV in the US are women of color.
Women living with HIV also face numerous structural and societal barriers to accessing health care. For many women, an HIV diagnosis is only one challenge on a long list them — poor health literacy, physiologic vulnerability, gender-based violence and trauma, stigma and discrimination, racism, lack of female-controlled prevention methods, limited participation in clinical trials, and other gender-based inequalities (including poverty, housing, serving as primary caregivers, laws that disproportionately affect women). These inequalities not only increase women's vulnerability to HIV, but also negatively impact the health of women living with HIV. Women tend to be diagnosed with HIV later in their disease than men and fewer women than men are getting HIV treatment.
Despite these shocking facts and statistics, women living with and vulnerable to HIV have been underserved and underprioritized in HIV programming, policy, and research throughout the epidemic's four decades. For more information on WRI efforts to change that, please see reports from our annual meetings. We invite you to join us as we work to improve the landscape for women living with and vulnerable to HIV. Together, we can change the course of the HIV epidemic...one woman at a time.