Women and HIV Invisible No Longer: A national study of women’s experiences of HIV

Sophia Forum and Terence Higgins Trust, April 2018

Sophia Forum and Terence Higgins Trust one-year study aiming to explore the needs and experiences of women affected by HIV.  It finds:

  • Over half of women (58%) living with HIV in the UK have experienced violence in their lives
  • Almost half (45%) are living below the poverty line.
  • Almost one third (29%) have experienced violence or abuse while accessing healthcare services because of their HIV status.
  • Almost half (42%) have had mental health diagnoses since an HIV diagnosis.
  • One third (33%) feel they have an undiagnosed mental health issue.
  • Almost half (46%) would like support with managing their mental health but are unable to access it.
  • Over half (54%) said their HIV has affected their sex lives.
  • Two in five (42%) said their HIV impacted whether to have children, despite vertical transmission in the UK now being almost non-existent.
  • Almost half (42%) felt as though they were diagnosed late.
  • One third (29%) had no one to turn to for support straight after diagnosis.
  • Despite this, half of women living with HIV (49%) would describe their quality of life as ‘good’ or ‘very good’, while a further 38 per cent would call it ‘acceptable’.
  • In fact, one third (30%) of women living with HIV said their lives have improved since diagnosis, compared to under one quarter (23%) who said it has become worse.
  • One fifth (18%) said sexual health services were difficult to access, for reasons including distance between home and clinic, opening hours or lack of appointments. One in ten respondents said they would feel worried about judgemental staff when asking to take an HIV test.

Click here to view the report.