First, the good news: Of the women living with HIV who participated in a survey for The Well Project, 99% were taking HIV meds, 98% were engaged in care and 85% reported an undetectable viral load.
But once you look beyond the HIV care continuum, the survey data show that women living with HIV face other issues that affect their health and well-being. The biggest barrier is stigma: 69% said they experienced stigma in their personal lives, 61% encountered stigma in health care settings and 60% reported self-stigma.
The report explores five main issues:
- HIV stigma
- disclosure of HIV status
- concurrent health conditions
- mental health and trauma
- awareness and impact of U=U (also known as undetectable equals untransmittable).
The results of the survey were published in the report Together We Are…Making an Impact. You can read the press release about the report on TheWellProject.org; you can download the report here, and you can follow the project’s POZ Blog here.
“In order for us to truly impact women’s lives, it is crucial that we continually assess the factors that aid their progress toward achieving optimal health and well-being and those that pose the biggest barriers,” said Krista Martel, executive director of The Well Project, in the press release. “Women’s lived experiences inform everything we do: ensuring that our programming is effective, identifying unmet need and educating us about where we may have room to grow.”
The survey included 239 respondents, of which 157 self-identified as women living with HIV. The results showed not only that people must think beyond the issues of care, treatment and viral suppression when it comes to health and wellness but also that The Well Project itself is a vital resource for women living with HIV.
The nonprofit is an online resource for women with HIV. Those who use The Well Project were 72% less likely to experience stigma from others and 74% less likely to report self-stigma.
“This survey shows what I know to be true as a woman living with HIV who is strongly engaged with The Well Project,” said Masonia Traylor, community advisory board member for The Well Project, in the press release. “The Well Project’s resources have been extremely successful in connecting women to each other both online and in their communities. It also can help women develop their advocacy skills and advance their leadership, as it has my own. I’m excited about how progressive this organization is about women in the fight for their lives and others impacted by HIV/AIDS.”