Quest was selected in 2004 by the Positive Women’s Task Force to launch a program exclusively for HIV+ women and their children. Today, Women of Wisdom (WOW) remains the only program of its kind in Oregon and Southwest Washington, as most services at the federal, state, and local level have been designated primarily to meet the needs of single men.
Under the direction of Katy Byrtus, HIV Services Program Coordinator, WOW supports, educates, and empowers HIV+ women by offering group and individual counseling, integrated health services, and a social network that compliments the care individuals receive from their HIV providers.
In addition, WOW provides its clients with weekly meals (Wednesdays, 4pm to 7pm) in addition to Quest’s Nutrition Night on Thursdays. A variety of social activities are offered that focus on health and wellness, and that encourage peer support. Quest staff and practitioners support clients’ material needs, such as food and clothing; make referrals to case management and providers; offer one-on-one support and peer mentor services to support women where they are; and encourage positive women to become stronger advocates for their health.
The overarching goals of the WOW program are to strengthen the capacity of women living with HIV/AIDS 1) to self-mange their own disease progression; 2) to adhere to medical and mental health treatment protocols; and 3) to model and teach substance abstinence, healthy nutrition, and exercise habits.
The WOW program coordinates client needs with community resources, including:
- Peer mentors and one-on-one support
- Individual therapy
- Mental health support groups
- Referrals to case management and providers
- Acupuncture and massage
- Annual Retreat
- AIDS Walk and community involvement