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Where the Heart Is

Where the Heart Is

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Since 1992 more than 40 HIV-positive women and their children have found support and assistance at Love House, a housing program run by Sister Love, a nonprofit organization in Georgia that focuses specifically on the needs of HIV-positive women. Love House began in a condominium donated to Sister Love by an HIV-positive woman. Today it comprises two houses (although one is in need of renovation and is not in use) situated on two acres of property owned by Sister Love in the Atlanta suburb of Adamsville. There, up to 10 women and their children are able to reside for as long as a year as they stabilize their lives and make plans for their future. This includes going back to school, finding employment, or becoming qualified for Social Security or welfare benefits as well as taking part in educational programs on parenting, safer sex, and risk reduction. In addition, all of the women must pursue volunteer opportunities. 'Once the women work on themselves,' says D'zon Dixon Diallo, MPH, Sister Love's founder and chief executive officer, 'the next step is to become part of their community and to get involved.' By providing women with transitional housing until they find a home of their own, Sister Love is reducing one type of stress many HIV-positive women experience. 'First and foremost, not having a secure, supportive, and safe place to live is a key stress for many women who are infected with HIV,' says Diallo. 'And this is associated not just with income but with the level of support within the home.' Thus, while some women go to Love House because they are homeless, others are there because their families refuse to have an HIV-positive person in their house or because their home life is dangerous or abusive. The impact a place like Love House can have is clear. 'We know that having a supportive place to live that doesn't add to their stress has resulted in women having their T-cell counts go up and their viral loads go down,' says Diallo. 'If this program didn't exist, many of these women would have gotten sicker faster, and some might not be here.'

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Sue Rochman

Editor

Ryan is the Digital Director of The Advocate Channel, and a graduate of NYU Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing. She is also a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. While her specialties are television writing and comedy, Ryan is a young member of the LGBTQ+ community passionate about politics and advocating for all.

Ryan is the Digital Director of The Advocate Channel, and a graduate of NYU Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing. She is also a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. While her specialties are television writing and comedy, Ryan is a young member of the LGBTQ+ community passionate about politics and advocating for all.