Women Know Best Report

Women Know Best Report

Key findings of this report:

  • Improve the mental health of women living with HIV by providing well integrated health and social care services, including peer support, which address holistically the specific needs of women.
  • Commission innovative projects that promote the active and meaningful engagementof women living with HIV in the design and delivery of policy and programmes at community and national levels.
  • Train frontline health and social care staff in recognising signs of violence and introduce screening and referral to effective support for GBV in clinical and community settings.
  • Address the lack of gender specific data, and under-representation of women in clinical trials: increase positive women’s treatment literacy and ability to work collaboratively with researchers in designing, implementing and evaluating research.
  • Provide sustained support to networks of women living with HIV to increase their strategic influence and advocate for change that will improve women’s well-being and quality of life.

A new report which addresses the wide range of issues which specifically affect women living with HIV and looks at some of the best way to address them.

This guide has been produced in conjunction with women living with HIV, and provides a helpful evidence base for support organisations and commissioners to improve and expand their support services for women living with HIV. Women living with HIV face a higher risk of poverty, mental ill health, and gender-based violence than the general population, and are more likely than men who have sex with men to be undiagnosed or diagnosed late.

We first outline the key issues facing women living with HIV in the UK today. We showcase examples of best practice from throughout the UK across a range of sectors that have been successful in tackling these issues and improving women’s health and well-being. Finally we end with recommendations for commissioners, voluntary and community groups, medical and social researchers, and healthcare providers to improve policy and programmes.

In December 2014, Positively UK hosted the “Women Know Best” conference in London, which brought together women living with HIV from across the UK. Women discussed the key issues that affected their lives, shared experiences, and developed recommendations to improve services. We then built on the ideas from the conference, and findings from a literature review, to produce this bottom-up report which is grounded in the real-life experiences of women living with HIV.

Evidence from the conference and literature review highlighted a number of key issues for women living with HIV. There were several areas in which we could not identify current best practice, and that deserve special attention to develop and establish support. These include services for lesbian and bisexual women, trans women, sex workers, and women within faith communities.