In honor of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, we asked a few women at San Francisco AIDS Foundation to share why they’re passionate about serving women clients—and everyone—living with HIV.
Here’s what they had to say.
Naomi Prochovnick, case manager and navigator: I’ve been working in HIV in the Bay Area for a long time—for over 30 years.
Ashely Fargeon, lobby services manager: I’ve been working in residential treatment within San Francisco for about 12 years.
Brenda Lopez, facilities coordinator: I’ve been with the foundation for 21 years.
Irene Snyder, case manager: I’ve been doing social work since about the early 2000s.
Ellen Novogrodsky, benefits counselor: I’ve been working at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation for 13 years.
Why do you work in this field?
Irene: I came out in the late 90s. As a member of the queer community, I had friends and chosen family who were impacted by HIV.
Ashley: I got inspired I got inspired to work with marginalized populations in San Francisco, initially I began working in residential treatment.
Naomi: I started because, as a lesbian, I was taking care of my community.
What’s important about the work you do?
Irene: There is still a lot of stigma for folks who are positive and the communities it is directly impacted by. Anything I can do to make things a little better, or to be a resource, it feels really good.
Ellen: Even today, people are still struggling to get access to medications and medical care. And even though there are new systems and programs, they are very complicated. There’s a need now more than ever for people to access care and medication.
Brenda: It’s always something different. The foundation is always trying to see how can we make it better. Who can we include? Who else can we open our doors to?
Ashley: My ultimate goal is to ensure that everyone who walks into the space feels like they are coming into a space that is safe, that is inclusive, that is respectful, and warm.
What’s rewarding about the work you do?
Irene: I really value the relationships that I am able to build and sustain.
Brenda: You’re always learning something different—that’s the gratifying thing about it.
Ashley: Working alongside folks to help them realize their own personal goals.
Naomi: It’s about building and maintaining relationships. I sometimes will run into a client I haven’t seen in over ten years, and we remember each other. And feel that connection that comes from getting to know one another.
The best way to fight HIV is to know your status. A simple test can determine if you are infected with the virus.
Our diverse programs help thousands of people every year. From testing to prevention to care, our services assist communities where need is greatest.