Vancouver, B.C. [April 13, 2013] — Barriers undermining women’s access to HIV treatment and care must be addressed in order to reduce morbidity and mortality among HIV-positive women, and to reduce HIV transmission, according to two new studies from the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE).
The first study investigated and measured the quality of initial HIV care by gender using six indicators of non-compliance with BC-CfE treatment initiation guidelines, and examined factors associated with poorer quality of care. The study found there are significant gender inequities in receipt of recommended care during the first year on antiretroviral therapy and that women face barriers to accessing high-quality HIV treatment and care.
The study followed 3,875 participants initiating antiretroviral treatment in British Columbia from 2000-2010, finding that 43% of women did not receive resistance testing before treatment initiation and 17% initiated treatment on a non-recommended antiretroviral therapy regimen, compared to 36% and 9%, respectively, among men. In addition, 52% of women, compared to 44% of men, did not achieve HIV viral suppression within six months, which can lead to poorer health and increased risk of HIV transmission. Overall, the study found women were 25% more likely than men to experience sub-optimal care, which is known to dramatically increase risk of morbidity and mortality.
“Providing HIV-positive individuals with appropriate and timely treatment and care is critical in reducing HIV-related morbidity, mortality and new HIV transmissions,” said Dr. Robert Hogg, Director of the Epidemiology and Population Health Program at the BC-CfE and an author of the study. “These findings highlight the need for women-centred care approaches to ensure that women are receiving comprehensive and high-quality HIV care.”
The second study investigated the uptake of women’s health care services among harder-to-reach HIV-positive women and the factors associated with utilizing this care. Researchers found a health service gap exists along geographical and social axes for this population. They concluded there is a need to integrate women's health care with HIV-specific care that acknowledges women’s social and structural barriers to care.
Among the 231 women studied, 77% reported regularly utilizing women-specific health care. However, women who did not utilize women-specific health care were likely to be lower income (less than $15,000 per year) and use illicit drugs. Geographical setting and lower trust in health providers were also associated with a lack of uptake.
“These studies demonstrate an urgent need for women-centred care that acknowledges and addresses the gendered barriers to HIV treatment and care for women living with HIV from harder-to-reach populations,” said Dr. Angela Kaida, a professor at Simon Fraser University and senior author of both studies. “By supporting women’s retention in care, women-centred care has the potential to both improve individual health outcomes and reduce risks of HIV transmission.”
Both studies are being presented at CAHR 2013, the 22nd Annual Canadian Conference on HIV/AIDS in Vancouver April 11-14.
About the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS
The BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) is Canada’s largest HIV/AIDS research, treatment and education facility and is internationally recognized as an innovative world leader in combating HIV/AIDS and related diseases. BC-CfE is based at St. Paul’s Hospital, Providence Health Care, a teaching hospital of the University of British Columbia. The BC-CfE works in close collaboration with key provincial stakeholders, including health authorities, health care providers, academics from other institutions, and the community to decrease the health burden of HIV and AIDS. By developing, monitoring and disseminating comprehensive research and treatment programs for HIV and related illnesses, the BC-CfE helps improve the health of British Columbians living with HIV.
About the University of British Columbia
The University of British Columbia (UBC) is one of North America’s largest public research and teaching institutions, and one of only two Canadian institutions consistently ranked among the world’s 40 best universities. Surrounded by the beauty of the Canadian West, it is a place that inspires bold, new ways of thinking that have helped make it a national leader in areas as diverse as community service learning, sustainability and research commercialization. UBC offers more than 55,000 students a range of innovative programs and attracts $550 million per year in research funding from government, non-profit organizations and industry through 7,000 grants.
For additional information or to request interviews, please contact:
Phone: 604-682-2344 ext. 66536
Mahafrine Petigara Edelman (for BC-CfE)
Phone: 604-623-3007 ext. 297