You are here

Focusing on WLHIV

Friday 9 March is the National Day of Women Living with HIV in Australia. This significant date was created as an annual event by Femfatales, the National Network of Women Living with HIV at NAPWHA – the National Association of People with HIV Australia, with the idea to situate it after International Women’s Day to promote a greater awareness around HIV and the needs of women living with HIV in Australia.

Marking the third National Day of Women Living with HIV in Australia provides an important opportunity to shine a light on women with HIV and the particular issues faced by, and of concern to those women. The event continues to grow and is observed all around Australia, with the key message this year being Get Tested, Know Your Status to encourage and empower women to take control of their own health by getting tested for HIV. The more women test for HIV, the more we will be able to diagnose and treat women appropriately, address the gaps in testing and tailor the experience to suit women.

An estimated 11 percent of all people living with HIV in Australia are unaware of their HIV status, and an estimated 13 percent of those are female. Yet women in Australia are often not considered to be at risk of acquiring HIV, and because of this are less likely to test for HIV. We need to change this, by normalising HIV testing and thereby reducing the stigma around HIV. Having a HIV test should be something women include as part of their regular sexual health check-up.  

It is vital that the barriers and gaps in testing for women around HIV are recognised so that women are not left behind. Nearly half of heterosexual people diagnosed with HIV had a late diagnosis, which means they were likely to have acquired HIV at least four years before the diagnosis, and been unaware of their status all that time. Being diagnosed late can result in serious health challenges due to a compromised immune system.

In 2018, Femfatales is advocating the importance of knowing your own HIV status, which requires having a HIV test and taking charge of your sexual health.

The value of this annual awareness day is not only to highlight the important work of Femfatales, but to increase the visibility of all women living with HIV throughout Australia creating an opportunity for women's stories to be told and heard. As a famous author once said, “you can’t empower women without listening to their stories”.

As chair of the National Network of Women Living with HIV I find it confronting that in 2018 we have people who still have no idea that in Australia we have women who live with HIV. There are approximately 3,000 of us, representing 10 percent of the HIV-positive population.

Kath Leane, Chair Femfatales 

latest news

September 7, 2018
Despite big hopes for AZT, the drug's dibilitating side effects proved too much for some. 
September 3, 2018
Indonesia's anti-LGBT agenda is having a devastating impact on the country’s HIV response.
August 3, 2018
The key takeaway from the AIDS 2018 U=U pre-conference was clear: spread the message far and wide.
July 26, 2018
AIDS 2018: World-leading scientists refute rationale for laws that criminalise HIV transmission.
July 19, 2018
NAPWHA would like to hear from you about your experience using the MyLife+ app.
July 17, 2018
The Opposites Attract study continues to contribute to evidence demonstrating that U=U.
July 13, 2018
My Health Record is a centralised digital database housing an individual’s health information.
July 10, 2018
Although people with HIV are living longer, age-related diseases are setting in earlier, says report. 
July 5, 2018
A recent study confirms that fear of HIV continues to trump scientific knowledge of the virus.
June 22, 2018
Two years since its launch, MyLife+ is now recognised as the go-to app for people with HIV in Australia.
May 9, 2018
The federal government's budget details were released last night. Here's a community response.
March 29, 2018
We’re not talking about recovery parties here, but the post-recovery recovery when the festivities have ended.
March 21, 2018
The world has lost one of the most respected scientists in the field of HIV/AIDS, Professor David Cooper.
March 21, 2018
The cost of PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is to be drastically reduced from 1 April
March 9, 2018
The job of the kidneys isn’t glamorous but they play a crucial role in helping us maintain good health.