There are now an estimated 300,000 women in the United States living with HIV/AIDS. New findings from the “Women Living Positive” survey show that a communication gap exists between women living with HIV and their health care providers when it comes to having important discussions about HIV and its treatment that meet their individual needs.
More than half of women surveyed (55 percent) say they have never discussed with their health care provider how HIV medications might affect women differently than men.
“With the rise of HIV infections in women, it is important that women living with HIV and their health care providers maintain open lines of communication and discuss important topics including their emotional well-being, family planning considerations and care that best meets their health and lifestyle,” said Kathleen Squires, M.D., director of Infectious Diseases and Environmental Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and professor of medicine at Jefferson Medical College.
In addition, each year more than 6,000 HIV-positive women in the United States give birth. The survey shows that many HIV-positive women and their health care providers aren’t discussing how HIV treatment options might affect a pregnancy until after they conceive.
More than half of respondents (52 percent) identify themselves as caregivers. 43 percent of women feel that living with HIV has made taking care of their families “much more,” or “somewhat more,” difficult.
“We hope the “Women Living Positive” survey findings will encourage more discussion between women and their health care providers about HIV medications that best meet their individual needs,” said Dawn Averitt Bridge, founder and chair of the Board of The Well Project, a non-profit organization for women affected by HIV, and an HIV-positive mother.
The survey was supported by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in collaboration with The Well Project.
GfK Roper Public Affairs conducted the survey with 700 U.S. women, aged 21 and over, diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and on HIV treatment for three or more years. The women interviewed were part of three different ethnic or racial groups -; African-American, Caucasian and Hispanic.
For more information about the Women Living Positive survey, visit www.thewellproject.org.