Addressing the Needs of Low-Income Women Living with HIV

Executive Summary

Issue brief addressing how Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act can improve the health of women living with HIV.

Background

Generally, women living with HIV (WLWH) have the same reproductive health needs as all women. These include services for contraception, preconception care, maternity care, abortion services, STI (sexually transmitted infections) screenings, annual Pap tests, and routine breast cancer screenings. In addition, the health goals for individuals with HIV are to suppress the HIV viral load (preferably to undetectable levels), improve quality of life, restore or preserve immune function, and prevent HIV transmission to partners. In order to accomplish these goals, the usual recommended course of treatment for people living with HIV is Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) which includes at least three active anti-retroviral medications (ARVs) and other substances. Strict adherence to the HAART regimen is essential for optimal health and to prevent drug resistance.

As a result, WLWH require specific services and treatment in primary and gynecological care, and access to health providers with expertise in women?s health and HIV. Access to wrap-around services, such as transportation assistance, system navigation guidance, and psychosocial services is also important.

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