Women's College Research Institute

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Women-centred HIV care is lacking in Canada: study

Winter 2017

Dr. Mona LoutfyThe vast majority of women living with HIV in Canada are taking antiretroviral therapy. However, only 57 per cent of them say the care they receive from their HIV doctor is “women-centred,” helping them reach the best health and well-being possible — as defined by them.

These new findings, published in the journal PLOS ONE, are from the Canadian HIV Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Cohort Study (CHIWOS), a national study funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Dr. Mona Loutfy, a scientist at Women’s College Research Institute, leads CHIWOS.

The study sheds light on a growing issue in HIV care. Women are an important growing population at risk for HIV infection with over half of those living with HIV in world being women. Also, women have worse clinical outcomes than men do. Dr. Loutfy engages women with HIV and their communities to ensure their concerns drive her research questions.

“We are trying to address the topics that are most important for women living with HIV,” Dr. Loutfy says.

For example, the study’s findings have shown that women in Canada receive good treatment for their HIV but their overall women’s health needs — including pregnancy planning, Pap testing, mammograms and psychological well-being — are often overlooked.

“They want holistic care, care that covers all the different facets of their lives,” Dr. Loutfy says.

CHIWOS is investigating the demographics, social determinants of health, psychological factors and sexual and reproductive health of women living with HIV in Canada, with the goal of developing a women-centred HIV care model. The study has recruited 1,422 women with HIV from across the country, many of whom are from understudied marginalized communities.

Dr. Loutfy presented her research as the 2017 F.M. Hill Lecture on Nov. 15, 2017.

Learn more about Dr. Loutfy’s research in our 2017 Research Report video.

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