Report puts spotlight on needs of women affected by HIV

Terrence Higgins Trust and Sophia forum recently launched  ‘Women and HIV: Invisible No Longer’, a report to bring attention to the needs of women living with or affected by HIV. It was co-produced with women living with and affected by HIV.

The report was developed using existing evidence and new data generated with over 340 women through surveys and workshops.

It focuses on all women, including trans women, regardless of sexuality, ethnicity, whether they do or do not have children, or are pregnant or not.

Key Findings

Some of the key findings include the following:

  • Almost half (45%) of women living with HIV in the UK live below the poverty line.
  • Over half of women living with HIV in the UK have experienced violence because of their HIV status.
  • Nearly one third (31%) have avoided or delayed attending healthcare in the past year due to fear of discrimination.
  • Two thirds of women living with HIV (67%) are not satisfied with their sex lives.
  • Two in five women living with HIV (42%) said that HIV impacted their decisions on whether to have children.
  • Despite this, half of women living with HIV (49%) described their quality of life as ‘good’ or ‘very good’, while a further 38% called it ‘acceptable’.
  • On HIV prevention, little effort has been made to define who the women at risk of HIV are.
  • Nearly half the respondents (42%) felt that barriers prevent them from testing for HIV.

Read the full report (PDF) or the executive summary (PDF).

Five key asks

The report details a number of recommendations but the writers of the report have five key asks that summarise the changes needed to ensure that women’s needs are met  appropriately in HIV prevention, care, support, research and data in the UK.

  1. Achieve gender parity in the UK HIV response, ensuring equitable investment, priority and attention to women in HIV prevention, research, data and services.
  2. Ensure that HIV research addresses specific knowledge gaps around HIV and women and supports the full participation and meaningful involvement of women.
  3. Prioritise reducing late diagnosis of HIV among women, better explore the use of innovative HIV testing approaches, and improve rates of HIV test offers and uptake in different settings.
  4. Improve data collection and disaggregation on HIV and women, ensure local level data is available, and include sexuality data for women in national reporting.
  5. Invest in HIV support services that meet women’s needs holistically and enable women to not just live well but to thrive, including peer support and support for mental health and gender-based violence.

New report finds high recognition of It Starts With Me and National HIV Testing Week

Cover of TNS reportSocial research company TNS-BMRB has published their report of the survey they conducted at the end of 2015 on the ‘It Starts With Me’ campaign, including National HIV Testing Week. The report was commissioned by Public Health England.

Two surveys were carried out online: one for gay/bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM); and one for men and women from Black African (BA) communities.

The results revealed that campaign recognition was high, with 84 per cent of MSM and 75 per cent of BAs recognising some element of the campaign.

The survey showed the campaign was successful in improving HIV-related knowledge and attitudes: two-thirds of MSM respondents and three-quarters of BAs realised how quick and easy testing is, thanks to the campaign. In addition, many (78 per cent MSM, 76 per cent BA) agreed that the ads made them think it’s normal to get tested for HIV.

Around half of MSM (47 per cent) and two fifths of BA (39 per cent) who were shown the ads stated that they encouraged them to get tested. In terms of actions, 35 per cent of MSM and 23 per cent of BAs who saw the campaign took steps to get tested.

The ads also motivated safer sex behaviours, with around a quarter in each group reportedly encouraged to use condoms during intercourse.

Some challenges which the survey revealed were that for MSM, 14 per cent had never had an HIV test, and 12 per cent did not know where to get tested. For Black African respondents, 23 per cent had never had a test and 12 per cent did not know where to get one.

Read the full report [PDF].

Gay Men’s Sex Survey results

HPE funded Sigma Research, at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, to conduct the 17th Gay Men’s Sex Survey (GMSS). The survey was community-recruited and is concerned with HIV and STI infections, sex between men, HIV prevention needs and service uptake. Over 15,000 men completed the survey and the findings have now been published.

The results [PDF] shows that whilst more gay and bisexual men than ever before are getting tested for HIV, a quarter have never had an HIV test, and a third are unsure about their HIV status.

Men’s ‘sexual happiness’ and it’s relationship with HIV infection is an issue which the report examines, and the findings indicate that men living with diagnosed HIV are no more, or less, likely to be unhappy with their sex life than men who have not tested HIV positive

As well as exploring HIV prevention opportunities, capabilities and motivations using a range of indicators about unmet prevention need, the report also looks at a number of risk and precaution behaviours related to sex and drugs, and examines data about the performance of HIV prevention interventions.