Sexuality and relationships are a fundamental part of being human and living a full life for many individuals. A diagnosis with a chronic illness such as HIV can have a significant impact on sex and intimacy. Over 17.5 million women globally and 16,600 in Canada are living with HIV. While women who are taking HIV medications are essentially non-infectious and can expect a normal life expectancy, recent research by the SFU-affiliated Canadian HIV Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Cohort Study (CHIWOS) has shown high rates of sexual inactivity and dissatisfaction among women living with HIV in Canada as well as significantly lower overall quality of life compared with the general population of women. This is related to the fact that HIV remains highly stigmatized and criminalized in society, creating barriers to dating, disclosure, and the pursuit of love. The time for change is now.
We are a community of researchers, advocates, and women living with HIV that strive to normalize sex and intimacy for women after HIV. Our immediate team includes three SFU PhD students doing empirical research related to HIV, women’s sexual health and gendered issues (Allison Carter, Sophie Patterson, Kate Salters), three HIV activists leading social change in their communities (Valerie Nicholson, Margarite Sanchez, Kath Webster), an Assistant Professor at SFU and Canada Research Chair in Sexual and Reproductive Health (Angela Kaida), and our amazingly talented website consultant (Fernando Prado). Through our work on CHIWOS, we are also backed by more than 200 diverse stakeholders across Canada who are dedicated to advancing the health and well-being of women living with HIV.
Impact Goal 1
An evidence-based, community-driven website supporting healthy sexuality and relationships for women and couples affected by HIV.
Impact Goal 2
Increased capacity of women living with HIV and other stakeholders to participate in and benefit from a research-community innovation project.
With support from a Social Innovation Seed Grant from RADIUS and Embark and informed by a combination of lived experience with HIV and PhD-level research, we aim to be the go-to information source for sex and relationships after HIV, and plan to launch www.lifeandloveafterhiv.ca later this year.