HIV care that’s made for women
Women are one of the fastest growing populations at risk for HIV infection and they have worse clinical outcomes than men do.
Dr. Mona Loutfy, a senior scientist at Women’s College Research Institute, is developing HIV care designed especially for women’s needs to close the health gaps they experience.
Dr. Loutfy leads the Canadian HIV Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Cohort Study (CHIWOS), a national study funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The study’s goal is to help women with HIV be as healthy as they can be in every way.
Study 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 mental health care — are often overlooked. To find and address these gaps, Dr. Loutfy engages women with HIV and their communities to ensure their concerns drive her research questions.
“When we set out to look at what we thought as researchers, were the most important topics, we thought it was going to be all about delivery of HIV care. What came out was actually a bit different.”
The study found that 64 per cent of the women had experienced violence in childhood and 80 per cent had experienced violence in adulthood. Half of the women had depressive symptoms. Isolation and poverty were also significant issues in the community.
“I feel that the care needs to be a little bit different,” Dr. Loutfy says.
She is working to create a new model of care that is women-centred, meaning focused on optimizing the overall health of women with HIV in Canada, particularly those at a higher risk, such as Indigenous women and trans women.
For women like Evana Ortigoza, a Community Advocate with Dr. Loutfy’s Trans Women HIV Research Initiative, the effort is very important. Evana is a trans woman who has lived with HIV for 17 years.
“The research they’re doing here is for trans and women, women with kids and women in all their diversity; it’s amazing. We are not alone,” she says. “Everywhere I go, Women’s College is there to make sure that women are protected.”
Watch the video above to learn more about Evana and Dr. Loutfy’s research, and visit report2017.womensresearch.ca to learn more about research at Women’s College Research Institute at Women’s College Hospital.
- Research Spotlight: Women’s College Hospital
- Health & Community Leaders Talk: Dr. Paula Rochon
- Patients + Research: Nicole Brady
Women’s College Hospital is one of Ontario’s 23 research hospitals that contribute to a healthier, wealthier, smarter province. Look for other RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT posts on our Healthier, Wealthier, Smarter blog or join the conversation about why health research matters for Ontario on Twitter, using the hashtag #onHWS.