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Focusing on Women with HIV

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Imane Sidibe, MSC, Associate Director of Strategic Initiatives at International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPAC). The organization recently joined HIV Advocates and AbbVie, a global, research-based biopharmaceutical company, to issue a consensus statement calling for improved care for women living with HIV. The consensus statement calls attention to an important health issue for women.  Together, the groups are developing programs and taking the initiative to scale up treatment efforts geared toward HIV, with a strong focus on vulnerable populations, such as women.

Why is this an important health issue for women?

[I] “HIV is a thirty year old epidemic, which was seen initially as an epidemic that mainly affected men, specifically homosexual men. Since then, we have seen a great shift over the years where women are now one of the growing affected populations. Much needs to be done to address the unique needs of women living with HIV. In fact, every one minute or so, a woman is affected. Women are the fastest growing segment of people living with HIV worldwide1.  Globally, approximately half (49 percent) of all adults living with HIV are women2.  Women living with HIV have unique needs through each stage of life, from childbearing years to menopause. The initiative addresses some of the unique challenges women face as a consequence of their disease and its treatment, such as depression and guilt.  Women living with HIV are faced with stigma and discrimination, particularly in the areas of sexual and reproductive rights.  Additionally, stigma and discrimination or the threat of thereof are still preventing many women from accessing prenatal care services2.  Women have unique care considerations including pregnancy, emotional health, increased risk for cardiovascular disease and cervical cancer, and premature menopause and osteoporosis3.  Women living with HIV are more likely to suffer from these conditions and access to care, along with adherence to treatment, is important as the disease evolves. Our need to educate women is tremendous.”

Why have IAPAC and AbbVie partnered together to launch a steering committee and announce this consensus statement?

[I] “IAPAC is a members-based organization and there are over 20,000 members, ranging from clinicians to professional medical associates representing healthcare providers, who service vulnerable populations. It is important to give our members the tools necessary to address the needs of women. IAPAC is a rights-based institution; the organization feels that it is a right to address women’s health issues.  IAPAC applauds and welcomes public and private partnerships when they allow for the community to perform such incredible work.  By launching the steering committee with the help of AbbVie, adequately addressing the needs of women infected with HIV is now possible.”

What is See Us: Women Take a Stand on HIV?

[I] “See Us: is an international women’s campaign that addresses the unique challenges of women facing HIV.  It encourages women to emerge from the shadows to build a stronger sense of community and ultimately to have a voice under the direction of community members.  The steering committee is currently developing tools to address clinical needs of women, increase HIV literacy, and educate women about taking a stand to access care.  The committee will inform women about their choices and the campaign will focus on informing women about choices, empowering each one to help obtain a better quality of life. The steering committee meets regularly in an effort to disseminate tools for providers, hospitals, community health centers, and individuals working with women infected with HIV to help raise awareness about key issues affecting this particular population.  IAPAC continues to develop tools and disseminate these tools to move the message forward about how great of an issue this is around the world. “


1 AIDS Epidemic Update December 2004. UNAIDS and WHO. Accessed June 21, 2013

2 Women Out Loud.  UNAIDS.  Accessed June 21, 2013.

3 Guide for HIV/AIDS Clinical Care, Health Care of HIV-Infected Women Through the Life Cycle, January 2011. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, HIV/AIDS Bureau. Accessed July 15, 2013.

Cherilyn Cecchini

Cherilyn is proud to serve as the National AMWA Blog Coordinator this year. She is currently a fourth year medical student at Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA. Cherilyn recently served as co-president of her local Jefferson AMWA branch. In addition, she was chosen as National Secretary of the AMWA Student Division the year before last. She feels strongly about advancing women's health and is extremely thankful for both the networking and scholastic opportunities that AMWA continues to offer.

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