Women Involved in Life Learning from Other Women (WILLOW) is an intervention for adult women with HIV and AIDS. WILLOW’s goal is to reduce sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV transmission risk behaviors by educating clients to be actively involved in their own HIV care, treatment, and adherence to establish a long-term goal of living well with HIV.


Women Involved in Life Learning from Other Women (WILLOW) is a social-skills building and educational intervention for adult women living with HIV. It consists of 4 four-hour sessions that are delivered by two trained adult female facilitators, one of whom is living with HIV.

The small group sessions consist of eight to 10 women living with HIV and are conducted in a community-based setting. WILLOW informs women about identifying and maintaining supportive social networks, teaches coping strategies to reduce life stressors, enhances awareness of sexually transmitted disease (STD) transmission and HIV risk behaviors, teaches communication skills for negotiating safer sex, reinforces proper and consistent condom use, distinguishes between healthy and unhealthy relationships, and defines types of abusive relationships and their effect on a woman’s ability to negotiate safer sex practices.

Intervention Goals

  • To reduce STDs and HIV transmission risk behaviors among women living with HIV by fostering self and gender pride, social support, increased HIV and STD knowledge, self-efficacy for relationship management, safer sex practices and attitudes, and stress management and reduction.
  • To encourage a lifelong commitment to HIV care, treatment, medication adherence, and living well with HIV.

Intervention Core Elements

  • Conduct small group interactive sessions that are supportive and meet the goals of the intervention.
  • Implement WILLOW with heterosexual women 18 years or older who have HIV, have known their HIV serostatus for at least 90 days, in settings that offer services to women with HIV.
  • Use two skilled, adult, female facilitators to implement WILLOW sessions. It is strongly recommended that at least one of the facilitators has HIV and is open and comfortable about discussing her status.
  • Use materials that are gender and culturally appropriate to foster self-worth and self-efficacy.
  • Train women in coping, decision making, goal setting, condom negotiation, and proper condom use skills, all of which are supportive of safer sexual behaviors.
  • Teach women about HIV stigma and disclosure, self-acceptance, self-care, social support networks, STD and HIV information, and consistent and proper condom use to support their decision-making about enhancing quality of life, sexual health, and HIV care issues.
  • Inform women about aspects of healthy and unhealthy relationships and types of abuse as related to the negotiation of safer sexual practices and HIV self-care and treatment.
  • Educate women to be actively involved in their own HIV care, treatment, and adherence in order to establish a long-term goal of living well with HIV.
  • Use an educational and informational focus in the sessions as opposed to a counseling and services provision focus.

Intervention Population

Heterosexual women of any race or ethnicity with HIV or AIDS ages 18 years and older who have known their HIV serostatus for at least 90 days.

WILLOW Training

There is no CDC-supported training currently available for WILLOW. Technical assistance for the implementation of WILLOW is available.

To request technical assistance:

  1. CDC’s directly funded health department and CBO partners may request technical assistance by submitting a request in the CBA Tracking System.
  2. Organizations not directly funded by CDC may contact their local health department for assistance in submitting a request.

If you have questions or need additional assistance, please contact HIVCBA@cdc.gov.

Implementation and Marketing Materials

Materials and resources that support the implementation of WILLOW are coming soon.

  • Wingood GM, DiClemente RJ, Mikhail I, Lang DL, Hubbard-McCree D, Davies SL, Hardin JW, Hook EW, Saag M. A randomized controlled trial to reduce HIV transmission risk behaviors and STDs among women living with HIV: The WiLLOW Program. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr 2004;37(suppl 2):S58-S67.