GSHI receives funding for SHAWNA Project: Examining social, policy and gender gaps in sexual health and HIV/AIDS care for women living with HIV

GSHI has received a 5 year grant from CIHR to launch the SHAWNA Project (Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS: Women's Longitudinal Needs Assessment) focused on the social, policy, and gender gaps in women's sexual health and HIV care across Metro Vancouver. SHAWNA is a collaboration with a diverse team of researchers, community, legal and policy experts and peers from the affected community of women living with HIV/AIDS (WLWH): including Positive Women's Network, BC Women's Hospital/ Oak Tree, BCCDC, Aboriginal Health Research Program at UVIC, YouthCo. AIDS Society, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Pivot Legal Society and WISH Drop-In Centre Society, among others.

Recent evidence suggests an increasing number of new HIV infections among women in BC and across Canada. Moreover, the sexual and reproductive health needs of WLWH have been largely overlooked, despite that many WLWH, including in Canada, are living with or intending to have children. To date, while there is a large body of research on the individual behavioural, biological, and clinical factors that shape HIV care outcomes, we know far less about the role that laws, policies, gender, stigma, and geography play in shaping access and uptake of HIV care continuum and sexual and reproductive health for WLWH. This is of particular concern, given calls for women-centered sexual health and HIV care and growing concerns of the role of criminalization of HIV non-disclosure and its potential negative effects on women's experiences with HIV care.

Given limited studies conducted over time, SHAWNA aims to interview and follow 500 WLWH in Metro Vancouver, Canada over the next five years. This study hope to create an evidence-base to inform improved women-centered sexual health and HIV care. Knowledge translation and exchange will be conducted throughout the study, which will play a key role in informing policy and programs that best promote women-centered sexual health and HIV care in BC, and can be replicated across Canada.