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Treatment Issues for Women

By Angela Garcia, Jennifer McGaugh, Heidi Nass, Cathy Olufs and Claire Rappoport

November 2002

Table of Contents


Introduction

If you are a woman living with HIV, you probably have a lot of questions. We all do. Since the first studies focusing on positive women began in 1994, many treatment advances have been made. But there are still few sources of treatment information and support for positive women. Many questions remain unanswered about how HIV and treatments for HIV may affect women differently.

Yet even without the complete answers we'd like, many women face the immediate reality of having to make difficult treatment decisions. These decisions are increasingly complicated, and while it's possible to access information about drugs used to treat HIV, it's harder to find reliable or comprehensive discussions of anemia, lipodystrophy, hormones, and other HIV-related conditions that can greatly affect a woman's quality of life.

This booklet was written for women living with HIV. Some of the conditions discussed here affect men as well, but this booklet is meant to help you understand how these conditions and their treatments specifically affect women with HIV. Due to limited space and the availability of information about various treatment issues in many other places, we have focused on certain HIV-related conditions and health issues. While there are references to specific HIV treatments throughout, this booklet does not discuss antiretroviral therapy in detail. Decisions about whether to start, stop, or switch regimens are not covered.

To learn more about drugs used to treat HIV, treatment strategies, or anything covered in this booklet, you may want to read some of the free treatment publications listed in the resource section. Some of these resources discuss treatment issues as they relate to women. If you need more detailed information about a specific subject -- such as pregnancy -- you may also want to contact one of the women's agencies listed, where you can speak with a treatment educator or advocate for further information and support.

Whether you're reading this booklet for yourself or someone else, we encourage you to keep asking questions, learn as much as you can about HIV, and become more involved in treatment decisions that affect your health.


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