Key findings in the report are:
- Healthcare providers need to recognise all the factors that may affect access and adherence to medication; they should discuss the importance of adherence with women, refer women to peer support, and seek ways to help women take medication successfully.
- Women want and need access to comprehensive and accurate information about the effectiveness of different types of treatment and prevention methods.
- Women’s idea of “good HIV prevention” is something long-lasting, quick-acting, discreet and undetectable, that has few side effects and, importantly, does not interfere with sexual pleasure.
- PrEP enables women to share the responsibility of HIV prevention with their partner(s). Women living with HIV do not want to be solely responsible for preventing transmission to their partners – shared responsibility is important.
- Women do not know enough about PrEP or how it works. The majority of clinical research and advocacy has centred on gay men, and this lack of involvement in research has led to poor awareness and low engagement with PrEP activism.
- Women only spaces and strong support networks and are vital in enabling women through effective management of HIV treatment and prevention.
- Peer support is especially important, as it has a proven track record in helping people better understand and manage their HIV, as well as help them to talk about their HIV to others.
A new report looking at the findings and evaluation of the Women PrEPare workshop that took place in London in July 2015, bringing together 30 women living with HIV from around the UK to look at HIV treatment and its use in prevention and how it specifically affects women.
Women PrEPare came about following the findings from Positively UK women’s conference Women Know Best, which included a recommendation to community based organisations to: “provide opportunities for women to develop and improve treatment literacy and treatment advocacy skills, and emphasise the benefits of participating in medical and social research.”
The workshop, held at Positively UK’s head office in London, was supported by a small grant from AVAC – Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention. It was an exciting day of learning and discussion around HIV, antiretroviral drugs, and new prevention technologies such as Pre-Exposure Profilixis (PrEP), Treatment as Prevention (TasP), and microbicides.
The main aims of the day were:
- to improve women’s understanding of HIV, ARVs, and new prevention technologies including TasP, PrEP and microbicides
- to stimulate discussion around, and to identify, the role that new prevention technologies can play for women living with HIV in the UK
- to increase women’s confidence and skills in advocating for and influencing the access to treatment and prevention agenda
The content and direction of the day was designed by a steering group of women living with HIV.