Research Report 2018

A man in an operating room

Dr. Mona Loutfy | Senior Scientist and Infectious Disease Specialist

Deconstructing the stigma of HIV

Women are one of the most affected groups at risk for HIV, representing over half of the adults living with HIV globally. Barriers of stigma and discrimination often exist against women living with HIV in Canada, creating a health gap where women with HIV now have worse clinical outcomes compared to men.

An international leader and founder of the Women and HIV Research Program (WHRP), Dr. Mona Loufty is working to address these barriers and health inequities to create a world where girls and women can maximize their true potential, well-being and health. As HIV often targets the most marginalized and stigmatized populations of women, Dr. Loutfy’s research aims to achieve health equity for these communities.  

By using community-based research principles, Dr. Loutfy and her team have been able to work with populations of racialized women, Indigenous women and women of sexual minority groups to determine what’s most important to them in receiving women-centred HIV care. Her team has found that engaging with these communities of women is essential to addressing the social, biological and clinical differences that influence the day-to-day issues they face affecting their health. To increase healthcare engagement, Dr. Loutfy collaborates with a variety of experts to develop programs and tools that help these women better navigate the health system and advocate for their own health and reproductive goals. 

A new Women-Centred HIV Care (WCHC) model, developed as part of the Canadian HIV Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Cohort Study (CHIWOS), will optimize the health and well-being of women with HIV in Canada and disseminate the related knowledge, while training the next generation of researchers, clinicians and community partners. Dr. Loutfy and her team actively engage with HIV care providers to ensure the new model of care, as well as the recently updated Canadian HIV Pregnancy Planning Guidelines, are being implemented in practices across Canada to improve heath outcomes for all women living with HIV.