Dr. Mirjam J. Curno and colleagues recently published a study in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromesexamining the representation of women with HIV in clinical research trials1. The key findings from this study may surprise you:
For context, ~50% of individuals living with HIV worldwide are women.
Sex-based differences influence HIV infection, HIV care, and the development of HIV-associated complications, like heart disease.
Both biological and social factors contribute to how individuals experience a disease. Women and men may differ, for example, with respect to how they acquire HIV infection or how their immune system responds to HIV infection and to antiretroviral therapy2. Differences have also been seen in the rates at which women and men uptake treatments to prevent other medical problems associated with HIV, such as heart disease3.
Results of clinical research studies can only be generalized widely if women and men of all races and ethnicities participate. Strong representation of women in HIV clinical research trials helps to ensure that evidence-based strategies are applied to improve the care of women as well as men.
One barrier to women’s participation in HIV clinical research is the lack of widely available information about how a particular study may impact women’s health.
Before deciding to participate in a research trial, women want to know:
Through the campaign, we present facts about HIV-associated heart disease and possible prevention strategies. For example:
But the “heart” of the Follow Your Heart Campaign comes from women with HIV sharing why heart health and research participation matters to them. If you check out our Follow Your Heart Video (link), you’ll hear the following personal testimonials from women living with HIV:
It comes as no surprise that we learned a lot from listening to women living with HIV share their stories. Because education is a two-way street. #FollowYOURHeart.