Very few studies are carried out on women with HIV

Very few studies are carried out on women with HIV

Despite the fact that 53% of people with HIV around the world are women and girls, this population is seldom the protagonist of research to better understand the infection and its relationship with other diseases (comorbidities).

Dr. Sonia Raffe, in her work presented at the 18th European AIDS Conference (held last October), recalled that women with HIV seem to have more comorbidities than men who have the virus, they present these diseases at a younger age and have worse results than them.

However, information is lacking on women with HIV, for example, those over 50 years of age, since not enough research has been done regarding this group, as reported by the specialized website

Main health problems

Dr. Raffe and her team reviewed studies published between 2010 and 2020, which had 100% female participants, or at least 50%. They selected 38 articles that met this criteria, most of which were carried out in the United States.

Among the main results, they found that women with HIV are at higher risk of heart attacks and cardiovascular events, compared to women without HIV. In addition, they found that, unlike men with HIV, they are less likely to undergo procedures to reopen their arteries when necessary.

Other studies reviewed showed that being a woman was a risk factor for poor kidney function among people with HIV. Also, there was a much higher rate of end-stage kidney disease in women with HIV than in the general population.

In terms of bone health, HIV-positive women were found to have lower bone density than HIV-negative women, and when specifically studying HIV-positive, postmenopausal, Hispanic, or African-American women it was found that they had greater bone density loss per year than their peers without HIV.

Finally, regarding cognitive function, studies showed that having a low level of CD4 defense cells or a high level of the virus in the body worsened cognitive function in women with HIV.

Based on her research, Dr. Raffe noted the importance of conducting more HIV research specifically focused on women, so that “the best possible care can be provided to women as they age with HIV.”

Living with HIV and having good health is possible. At AHF Latin America and the Caribbean we offer you free screening tests and support in case you start or resume your antiretroviral treatment. Come to our closest office in your country or write to us on WhatsApp.