Five things to know about women and HIV

March 10, 2017

By Sara Semelka and Pamela Tassin


Evany shares her story1. Women’s experiences with HIV are unique, powerful and important


About 1 in 4 people living with HIV in the United States are women and 19% of the new HIV infections in the U.S. in 2014 were among women. Despite this, women are still often left out of conversations about HIV. HIV has impacted women since the earliest days of the epidemic. Women living with and affected by HIV have a unique perspective and valuable stories to share. Longtime advocate Evany Turk shared her experiences to help save the Affordable Care Act. If you or a woman you know wants to share her story or experience, we can help you do that here.


#TransmitLove with PrEP2. There’s a pill that can prevent HIV.


Scientific advances expand the ways we can prevent HIV. PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a daily prevention pill that is up to 99% effective when taken consistently and correctly..  Anyone who is HIV-negative takes an HIV test and is HIV negative can talk to their doctor about PrEP.  Check out “Women, PrEP & Sexual Health” (English/Spanish).

Are you interested in PrEP? Check out PrEP4Love to learn more about this stigma-free HIV prevention option.



3. If one person in a couple is living with HIV, their partner can remain HIV negative.


Couples with different HIV statuses can have a healthy, safe sex life all while keeping the HIV negative partner negative. People living with HIV on successful antiretroviral treatment — meaning their viral load is undetectable for at least six months — cannot transmit HIV sexually to their HIV-negative partners. The HIV negative partner can choose to take PrEP to further reduce the risk of acquisition. With these opportunities, couples affected by HIV can enjoy sex with very minimal chances of HIV transmission. Learn more about being undetectable here.




Poppy and her baby4. People living with HIV can have healthy HIV-negative babies, too!


Just because a person is living with HIV, that doesn’t mean they can’t have children. The World Health Organization says it best that it’s “the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health.” There are many options for safe and healthy pregnancy including achieving a suppressed viral load, PrEP/PrEP-ception, artificial/self-insemination, timed intercourse, assisted reproductive technologies, and adoption and surrogacy. To learn more about conception for PLWHIV visit POZ and Pediatric AIDS Chicago Prevention Initiative (PACPI).


Birth control options

5. Most hormonal birth control is safe and recommended for women living with HIV.


Women living with HIV have the right to determine when and if they have children and how far they would like to space those children. Women living with HIV and their medical providers should work together to identify a reliable form of contraception that works for their treatment regimen and needs. It is possible for anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs to reduce effectiveness of hormonal contraception and increase adverse effects. Long-acting reversible contraception options can be a good option for women living with HIV. For example, the copper IUD is a great option for many women living with HIV because there is no evidence of negative interaction with ARVs and is also the most effective emergency contraception option. To learn more about contraception options for WLHIV visit The Well Project.


The Midwest HIV Prevention and Pregnancy Planning Initiative (MHPPPI) works to improve sexual and reproductive health care for women living with and vulnerable to HIV. With an emphasis on new and emerging prevention, the MHPPPI program trains and develops capacity among health care providers throughout the region on the latest in HIV prevention for women; strategies for assessing and affirming reproductive desires; and approaches for integrating HIV prevention into women’s reproductive health care in HIV-impacted communities.


Categorized under Inside Story, National and Prevention.

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