Hello from the 16th European AIDS conference in Milan.
This morning I attended a very interesting workshop organised by WAVE, Women against Viruses in Europe, where numerous aspects of caring for women with HIV were presented and discussed.
The session started with a very powerful and insightful presentation by Justyna Kopec who has just celebrated her 20th anniversary of living with HIV. She discussed her journey to diagnosis and disclosed a number of lost opportunities to an earlier diagnosis (eg testing and then never returning for results) and highlighted that staff at her 'clinic' were integral to her feeling supported throughout her life living with HIV. This was a really excellent presentation to kick off with to remind us all to keep patients are at the centre of their care. (see Catherine Orr’s notes from this session here)
Following was an analysis of the models of care for HIV positive Women in Europe split into West, Central and Eastern areas by Dr Annette Haberl from Germany, Dr Cristiana Oprea from Romania and Dr Inga Iatysheva from Russia, respectively. There is a huge amount of detail surrounding the variations in HIV care in each country and all face similar challenges in varying degrees i.e. coordination of allied specialist services such as gynaecology, psychology and social supports, or lack of integrated services, particularly in less economically enabled countries; barriers to accessing care surrounding child care responsibilities; lack of gender autonomy; fear of stigma.
I noted that nurse led models of care for women living with HIV did not come up in discussion from any of the 3 speakers; the analysis may have not drilled down to this level but nurse led models of care could be useful in resource poor environments particularly. Additionally, further research as a high priority area was raised, and 2 speakers suggested that WAVE could be the right platform to assist coordinate research, exchange experience and create expert advisory groups.