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Women with HIV lack menopause support

Friday May 18th, 2018

Women with HIV do not get the support they need during menopause, a new study published yesterday (17 May 2018) has revealed.

The PRIME (Positive Transitions through the Menopause) report, undertaken by researchers at UCL, England, found that 47% of women with HIV say they do not have the information they need to manage menopause symptoms.

Researchers also found that the use of hormone replacement therapy to improve menopausal symptoms was exceptionally low among women with HIV, with less than one in ten women living with HIV with menopausal symptoms said they used it.

This is because some women said they did not want to become overburdened by medication, while others simply did not have access to information to make an informed decision.

In addition, some respondents reported that they experienced specific challenges during the menopause because they were sometimes unable to distinguish between menopause and HIV-related symptoms, were unable to access appropriate menopause care, and had difficulty managing their HIV status because of the impact of menopausal symptoms.

In another PRIME study, which is one of the largest of its kind, involving almost 900 women living with HIV aged 45-60 across England, a survey of 88 GPs found that only 46% felt confident about managing menopause in women with HIV. This compares to 96% of GPs who said they were confident about managing menopause in general.

GPs said they were most concerned about potential drug interactions between hormone treatment and HIV medication and missing an HIV-related diagnosis.

Study lead Dr Shema Tariq, clinical research fellow and consultant HIV physician at UCL Institute for Global Health, said: “One of the key findings of the study was the lack of information on menopause and support available to women with HIV.

“There are examples where women are going back and forth between their GP and HIV specialist, creating additional frustration and uncertainty during an already unsettling time. These findings may well apply to other groups of women managing long-term medical conditions such as those with diabetes.”

He called for HIV clinical services, GPs and HIV support services to be aware of the potential impact of the menopause transition on the health and well-being of women living with HIV.

The newly published report has a number of key recommendations for women with HIVs: provide high-quality and accessible information about the menopause; manage menopause within primary care, supported by close liaison with HIV specialists; ensure that primary care staff receive training to improve confidence and skills related to managing menopause in women with HIV; offer peer-support for women living with HIV transitioning through the menopause; and introduce a joined-up care approach, with a greater focus on the impact of menopause on well-being.

Tariq S. Menopause in women living with HIV in England.

Tags: Flu & Viruses | UK News | Women's Health & Gynaecology

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