Seminar 6: African Women and HIV

28 April 2004

In recent years African Women have represented 70-75% of heterosexual women diagnosed with HIV in the United Kingdom. African women living with diagnosed HIV currently outnumber men 2:1. In 2002 there were an estimated 9,100 African women living with HIV in the UK. The majority of these women were thought to be infected abroad in Sub-Saharan Africa.

These figures pose a number of challenges around service provision, treatment and prevention for health and social care professionals as well as researchers. Many of the HIV policy recommendations around prevention messages, treatment and care provision have come from evidence based on research on other populations with different physical, psychosocial and care needs.

On April 28 th 2004, the sixth African HIV Research Forum seminar day was held at the University of London Union. The day brought together over 100 individuals from a wide variety of organisations to focus on issues surrounding African Women and HIV. The day kicked off with Dr Kevin Fenton, Co-Chair of the Forum, asking delegates to find another delegate they had never met before. Delegates were then asked to discuss, in pairs, what they felt were key research questions pertaining to African Women and HIV. This short session proved to be very successful with a number of key areas identified by participants, including sexual health attitudes, partner notification and disclosure and access to treatment and care. Box 1 shows all the suggestions.

Dr Katy Sinka, set the background for the seminar day by presenting an excellent overview of the most recent epidemiological data. Dr Simona Fiore gave an highly engaging and fascinating presentation about fertility issues faced by women living with HIV. Angelina Namiba provided the community perspective by outlining the excellent ways the charity Positively Women collaborates with researchers. The day concluded with a lively discussion about the treatment issues faced by HIV positive African women chaired by Drs Charles Mazhude and Chris Wood

One of the most important aspects of AHRF seminar days is the opportunity to exhange information about new and ongoing research. A number of new research studies were announced including the Second Mayisha Study and a new study on African Men.