Involving women living with HIV in their own care

28 January 2015
An HIV ribbon

Last week the Salamander Trust, in collaboration with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Department of Reproductive Health, published the report Building a safe house on firm grounds. The report provides healthcare professionals with guidelines to facilitate quality care, positive attitudes and good practice in the treatment and care of women living with HIV.

The report is based on the largest ever survey of women living with HIV. The survey included 832 respondents between the ages of 15 and 72, from 94 countries globally. An additional 113 women were included from focus groups from seven different countries. The report promotes the meaningful involvement of women living with HIV in all aspects of healthcare, in order to build robust and collaborative links between care providers and women living with HIV. Women living with HIV should be consulted, appointed and employed by healthcare providers, as peer mentors to support women seeking care. Women living with HIV can act as bridges between the healthcare system and the community, ensuring that policies and practices are grounded in human rights and lived experiences. The guidelines will help healthcare workers to understand the life of women living with HIV, and is likely to improve job satisfaction for overworked and stressed health workers. It also enables women living with HIV to ‘give something back’ and take on leadership roles in their communities.

Worldwide an estimated 50-55 percent of the people globally living with HIV are women. Disclosure of HIV status will influence many aspects of life, especially for women in marginalized and hard to reach areas with a high epidemic.  Guidelines in how the life of these women can be improved coming from a policy and care perspective are also needed.

Photo credit: