Quilting: Women Centered HIV Wrap Around Care

NNEDLearn 2012 Participant: Lehigh Valley Hospital AIDS Activities Office (LVH AAO)

  • Quilt as both powerful metaphor for collective identity; a narrative device whereby women artistically weave their own her-stories exchanging intergenerational dialogue in the construction of self & communal identity
  • AIDS Quilt: Relabeling/renegotiating a symbol of the intergenerational HIV community
  • Created as a behavioral health initiative for HIV positive women by Michele M. Vella
Population of focus
HIV positive women in all phases of care from new diagnoses to women living with HIV for over 20 years.
About Quilting
  • Storytelling (gathering the material): Asks the client to share her story; interpret her story; and reinterpret her story as she moves through lifespan phases
  • Analyze Power (de-labeling): Considers social determinants of health impact feelings of powerlessness. This shows the woman how to look at HIV in a multi-dimensional context
  • Distress as healthy communication (acknowledges unique design): Encourages the woman to listen to her body and voice to navigate self-care
  • Advocacy & Collaboration (de-silence): encourages women to renegotiate their power, refuse social stigma, and break silence through social justice and being responsible to one another


Implemented in the Fall of 2011, Quilting uses feminist centered behavioral healthcare in all phases of clinical collaboration, weaving a “quilt” for the HIV positive female consumer. It Connects female staff members and female client peer support for:

  • Case management
  • Adherence
  • Medical clinical care
  • Counseling/therapy
  • HIV prevention/intervention

Female clinicians and staff work with HIV positive women. In all phases of quilting, female staff and clinicians are encouraged to utilize/collaborate with each other according to their individual strengths and the unique needs of the client/woman.

Additional efforts

  • Breakout sessions LVH AAO Women’s Conference that is organized by quilting themes with HIV positive women and community partners (March 2012). Product: Summary report with client + community suggestions for implementation into practice
  • Establishing more women-centered peer support opportunities post-NNED Learn 2012
  • Expanding community partners through peer support team demonstration of how quilting could be adapted to meet their population service needs
  • International HIV positive women advocacy group: (May, 2012) connecting international and domestic HIV positive female voices in our community

Michele Vella, Behavioral Health Specialist, LVH AAO
(610) 969-2922

Quilting: Women Centered HIV Wrap Around Care