Since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, women have often been forgotten. “Women don’t get AIDS - they just die from it” was a famous mantra in the early days. Whether it was ignoring the different ways the virus presented itself in women, excluding them from the AIDS ward at Cook County Hospital because there was only one bathroom on that floor, or arresting them when their newborns tested HIV+, the stories have been lost. Now it’s time for them to be told.
Victoria Noe began her involvement in the AIDS community in the 1980s, first as a volunteer, then as a fundraiser, both on staff and as a consultant. She stepped away in 1994, returning in 2011, this time as a writer and activist. She is the author of the Friend Grief series, including Friend Grief and AIDS: Thirty Years of Burying Our Friends. Her essay “Long-Term Survivor” won the 2015 Christopher Hewitt Award for Creative Nonfiction from A&U Magazine. Her writing has also appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Windy City Times and Huffington Post. She earned a master’s degree in Speech and Dramatic Art from the University of Iowa, and is a member of Chicago Writers Association, Alliance of Independent Authors and ACT UP/NY. Noe is currently hard at work on the final book her series - Friend Grief and Men: Defying Stereotypes, coming early next year. In 2017 she will publish Fag Hags, Divas and Moms: The Legacy of Straight Women in the AIDS Community.
Rosa E. Martínez Colón, MS
A native of Puerto Rico, Rosa moved to Chicago in 1987 and became part-owner of an agency that helped immigrant acquire legal status. In the early 1990’s, she offered some of the agency’s space to a support group for Latinos impacted by HIV/AIDS. Soon after, CALOR was born. Over the years, Rosa has been an integral part of CALOR’s transformation. From a weekly support group, CALOR has grown to offer 7 programs providing services to 6 different populations, including a 17-unit facility for individuals and families impacted by HIV/AIDS. Rosa has been very active locally and nationally. In 2010 she was Community Co-Chairs for the Host Committee for the United States Conference on AIDS, which was held in Chicago in 2011. The following year, she was selected as an Ambassador to the XIX International AIDS Conference, held in Washington, DC. Most recently, she was elected Co-Chair of the National Latino AIDS Action Network. She also serves as member of the Steering Committee for the Alliance for Research in Chicagoland Communities, as well as with the AIDS Foundation of Chicago’s Service Provider Council, and the Case Management Cooperative Leadership Council. Rosa holds a Master of Science in Public Service Management from DePaul University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Management from North Park University.