Celebrating Community Leadership and Action On AIDS
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Positive Women's Network (PWN) - South Africa


PWN Logo


Positive Women’s Network (PWN) is a grassroots organisation founded by 60 women who came together in 1996 in search of a safe place where they could share their feelings about their HIV status and design creative projects for the empowerment of other HIV-positive women in their community. The network improves the quality of life of HIV-positive women by providing information on HIV, resources and training on home and community-based palliative care, strategies for supporting orphans and vulnerable children, women’s rights, domestic abuse and rape. The model is based on support groups comprising both HIV-positive and HIV-negative community members. Comprehensively addressing the needs of women living with HIV, the network works in five programme areas: outreach, training and workshops, income generation, support-group activities and advocacy. It is guided by the overarching goal of educating communities about HIV, stigma and how to access resources. Founded during a period in South Africa’s history when people and institutions had not yet begun to talk about HIV publicly, PWN has been at the forefront of the movement to create a secure space for HIV-positive women to learn to accept their own status, obtain acceptance within their own communities, get educated about the epidemic and access valuable treatment and counselling options.

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Profile in Brief
Positive Women's Network
Non-Governmental Organisation
Field of Work
Economic Empowerment
Treatment, Care and Support
Sexual and Reproductive Health
Stigma and Discrimination
Populations Served
3 part-time, 48 volunteers
  • The network has been at the forefront of the movement to create a safe space for women living with HIV to learn to accept their own status, obtain acceptance within their own communities, become educated about HIV, and access valuable treatment and counseling options.
  • PWN support groups have been recognized as a cost-effective model that can easily be replicated at the community level.
  • PWN has played a valuable role in the national debate over government testing of new HIV treatment options.
  • In recent years, PWN has been particularly involved with evaluation of vaccine trials and female condoms.
  • PWN founder Prudence Nobantu Mabele has been appointed to a number of national and regional commissions on HIV/AIDS (including the South African National AIDS Council) and speaks regularly on behalf of women’s issues in South Africa and internationally.


  • Department of Health and Social Welfare
  • South Africa National AIDS Council
  • Treatment Action Campaign
  • One in Nine Campaign



Twenty years of Investing in Women (a Global Fund for Women presentation, 2008):
Full video:

Photographs courtesy of www.idex.org.


E-mail:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Phone:  011 339-7679
Address: PO Box 1639
Johannesburg 2132
South Africa