Women represent one quarter of the population living with HIV in Canada and are an increasingly important sector of the HIV community. While some women’s health issues such as cervical cancer screening and management are well addressed in HIV management guidelines, others are not. These include sexual and reproductive health factors such as contraception, pre-conception planning, and menopause. Existing literature has shown that while women living with HIV in Canada receive good HIV care based on HIV care cascade indicators, their women’s health and sexual and reproductive health care needs are not being met.
In this article, we present a clinical guide for clinicians providing care for women living with HIV on three key women’s health topics that are under-discussed during HIV care visits: (1) contraception, (2) pre-conception planning, and (3) menopause.
We have summarized the most pertinent clinical factors on each topic to support straightforward counselling and present important considerations in the context of HIV-related diseases and treatment. Finally, when relevant, we have provided practical stepwise approaches for addressing each of these women’s health care topics when seeing a patient during a visit.
It is important that HIV specialists stay well-versed in the complex clinical interactions between HIV treatment and management of women’s health issues.