New research finds implications for two groups affected by HIV and AIDS—women and gay men
New research presented at conferences in Victoria and Vancouver this month have highlighted several challenges related to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment in the province of British Columbia. The findings are particularly important to the well-being of two groups that have often been described as particularly vulnerable to HIV infection: gay and bisexual men; and women.
Prevention and ‘Moral Panic’
Olivier Ferlatte, PhD candidate at Simon Fraser University, has found that while BC’s gay population is estimated to be roughly 2% of males (Statistics Canada, 2004), it has accounted for at least 40% of new HIV cases each year for the last decade (BC Centre for Disease Control [BCCDC], 2009). Despite this disease burden, policies that might have supported interventions to prevent infections in gay men and MSM have fallen short, and health investments have failed to reflect the epidemiology of HIV in the region.
His findings, in a report called Are There Enough Gay Dollars? An Intersectionality-Based Policy Analysis of HIV Prevention Funding for Gay Men in British Columbia, Canada, were presented during the recent Making It Work: A Health Update on Gay and Bi Men in B.C. conference in Victoria, B.C. Ferlatte told Monday Magazine that “Through the work that I’m doing, I see that young gay men today aren’t aware that gay men are more at risk of contracting HIV than their straight friends.” Health Canada, for example, doesn’t include sexuality among the determinants of health:
Currently, the Public Health Agency of Canada does not regard sexuality as one of its 12 determinants of health. Yet through the 2003 Canadian Community Health Survey — with 135,000 respondents — Dr. David Brennan, keynote speaker at this fall’s annual B.C. Gay Men’s Health Summit, analyzed that gay men were three times more likely than straight men to have mood or anxiety disorders, four times more likely to experience a lifetime of suicidal thoughts, and five times more likely to have been diagnosed with an STI. (Monday Magazine)
Ferlatte says that current HIV prevention methods still sidestep the issue of sex and don’t address the societal issues faced by gay men—and that policy makers, in a sort of “moral sex panic,” ignore important facts.
Inequalities in HIV Care for Women
Two new studies from the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS (BC-CfE) have demonstrated that barriers undermining women’s access to HIV treatment and care must be addressed in order to reduce morbidity and mortality among HIV-positive women, and to reduce HIV transmission.
The first study investigated and measured the quality of initial HIV care by gender using six indicators of non-compliance with BC-CfE treatment initiation guidelines, and examined factors associated with poorer quality of care. The study found there are significant gender inequities in receipt of recommended care during the first year on antiretroviral therapy and that women face barriers to accessing high-quality HIV treatment and care.
The second study investigated the uptake of women’s health care services among harder-to-reach HIV-positive women and the factors associated with utilizing this care. Researchers found a health service gap exists along geographical and social axes for this population. They concluded there is a need to integrate women’s health care with HIV-specific care that acknowledges women’s social and structural barriers to care.
Dr. Angela Kaida, a professor at Simon Fraser University and senior author of both studies, said that:
“These studies demonstrate an urgent need for women-centred care that acknowledges and addresses the gendered barriers to HIV treatment and care for women living with HIV from harder-to-reach populations. By supporting women’s retention in care, women-centred care has the potential to both improve individual health outcomes and reduce risks of HIV transmission.”
The findings were presented at CAHR 2013, the 22nd Annual Canadian Conference on HIV/AIDS in Vancouver.
We speak with Eric Berndt, communications coordinator at AIDS Vancouver Island.
Dining Out For Life
On Thursday April 25, 2013, local restaurants across Vancouver Island will unite to help AIDS Vancouver Island provide support to people living with HIV/AIDS on Vancouver Island by donating 25% of their food revenues to AVI. More details here.
RELATED | SFU Institute for Intersectionality Research and Policy: Are There Enough Gay Dollars? An Intersectionality-Based Policy Analysis of HIV Prevention Funding for Gay Men in British Columbia, Canada [opens to PDF] | British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS: New studies demonstrate inequalities in HIV care for women | Monday Magazine: ‘Moral sex panic’ puts gay men at risk (April 12, 2013) | Huffington Post: HIV-AIDS Treatment Favours Men Over Women: BC Studies (April 13, 2013) |