The International Community of Women Living with HIV: Nothing For Us, Without Us

8 March 2018

In honor of International Women's Day, the International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW) released a new report entitled "Walking in our Shoes: Perspectives of Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women living with HIV on Access and Retention in Care in Malawi, Uganda and Zambia."

This report highlights the key factors that facilitate retention in care for women living with HIV and calls for increased focus on rights and dignity in care. It presents the findings of community-led research related to the viewpoints and experiences of women who were initiated on antiretroviral treatment during pregnancy or breastfeeding and explores their perspectives on factors that have enabled them to successfully adhere to their treatment and retain in care.

Rebecca Matheson, ICW Global Director explains “Over time the perspectives and experiences of women living with HIV have been instrumental in shaping policy and programs to ensure they respond to our needs. This research and the report provides evidence from women’s voices on what has been supporting and enabling facilitators for adhering to treatment and retaining in care. We applaud the women for sharing our collective experience because the insights from this report will contribute to the achievement of global HIV targets.”

Critically, the women living with HIV who were interviewed called for increased respect for their rights and dignity and said initiatives to address stigma and discrimination helped them retain in care:

“The health workers are very friendly and they don’t discriminate against us.” Woman living with HIV, Lambulira, Malawi

“It is confidentiality. When these people have confidence in you that can maintain them in care.” Healthcare worker, Entebbe, Uganda

“What motivates me to come for medication is that the doctors do not treat us badly. They do not bark at us and order us around saying, “I told you to go there”. The doctor handles you very well. He or she cares to look for your file if it gets lost so that you leave this place with medication.” Woman living with HIV, Entebbe, Uganda

The women interviewed also highlighted the importance of quality woman-centred services and the ongoing need for sustained practical and emotional support to empower women living with HIV. 

Read the full article online here.