April 19, 2011
Over half of people living with HIV in the U.S. are estimated to be out of care, and studies show these statistics may be even worse for women living with HIV. Research published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that race, gender, and geography play a key role in health outcomes for HIV-positive people -- women are getting sicker and dying faster of HIV; especially Black women and Latinas; and particularly if they are living in the South or rural areas.
Women's medical care and support service needs are unique. Achieving the best health outcomes for HIV-positive women requires care that is non-stigmatizing, holistic, integrated, gender-sensitive, upholds positive women's rights and dignity, is peer-based and is culturally relevant.
Current services for women are often disjointed and incomplete. One of the largest gaps specifically for women is apparent in the lack of integration of HIV care with sexual and reproductive health care. The failure to effectively meet women's needs on the whole increases barriers to linking HIV-positive women to care and keeping them in care once linked.
Wrap-around supportive services including emotional support, peer-based services, case management, transportation, housing, childcare, mental health services, substance use services, employment services, re-entry programming, legal assistance, and food vouchers are essential to meet the needs of women living with and vulnerable to HIV. When these supportive services are absent, HIV-positive women are likely to face increased barriers to staying in medical care.
Meditz A, MaWhinney S, Allshouse A, et al. Sex, race, and geographic region influence clinical outcomes following primary HIV-1 infection. Journal of Infectious Diseases. 2011 Feb 15;203(4):442-451.
Armstrong WS, del Rio C. Gender, race and geography: do they matter in primary human immunodeficiency virus infection? Journal of Infectious Diseases. 2011 Feb 15;203(4):437-438.
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