History Matters – HOCC celebrates 27 years of dedicated support and services for women living with, affected, by or at risk for HIV on June 10th.  As the roots of HOCC deepen and grow stronger each year,  other local AIDS Service Organizations (ASO) are experiencing significant changes in funding support, changes in community focus, and/or service reductions.

In 1997, in response to a lack of gender specific HIV programs or services for women in the Greater Boston area, a small voluntary group of concerned women established a nurse-led, peer-driven grassroots prevention and education program for women infected, affected, or at risk for HIV/AIDS. From the beginning, the purpose of each program was to address the growing health care needs of HIV positive women and to provide emotional support and education for all women. The first programs, initially called “What’s In It For Us”, were defined by the questions HIV positive women were asking when their attempts to connect to other women services or care were significantly limited or nonexistent. Options for support for the growing numbers of HIV positive women were primarily met in rooms and programs for gay white men, which kept most women isolated and silent. The small band of advocates for women attempted to seek funding from state and federal funding streams to support programming for women to no avail. As the numbers of HIV positive women continued to grow, gender specific services remained limited and lacked the financial support needed to effectively reach the underprivileged and under-served communities of inner-city women. In response to this now defined population of women and their needs, the HIV advocates decided to work more collaboratively with other concerned women across the city and organized themselves as the “Healing Our Community Collaborative” (HOCC). All of HOCC’s programs, projects, and activities are for women, by women, and about women.

Our Mission Is Clear: HOCC’s mission is to empower women living with, affected by, or at risk for HIV by creating and maintaining a collaborative group of care providers and consumers whose shared purpose is to: improve health literacy and self-care; advance knowledge about women’s experience of HIV/AIDS and other disease processes; enhance problem-solving capacities and self-advocacy; promote healthy lifestyle and behavior changes; create solutions together to prevent HIV infection and transmission; reduce health disparities in women of color; and improve access to and retention in optimal care settings.

 Our Vision Is Tangible: HOCC envisions empowered women, living with, affected by and at risk for HIV, learning and living within a safe community free of stigma and discrimination, resulting in reduced negative health outcomes and fewer new HIV infections, while inspiring healthy choices in their journey forward.

A mirror imagine from 1997 to today remains stable and relevant in brining health and wellness into the lives of women then, through COVID, virtual programming and in-person on the second Monday of the month. HOCC’s Logo/Trademark visualizes our existence and has protected HOCC’s existence in the community since 2010 when HOCC incorporated.   Hope to see on June 10th for our 27th!