The goal of this report is to highlight the reproductive and sexual health experiences of HIV-positive women in Washington, D.C. in order to shape recommendations for service providers and advocates working with or on behalf of this population. Three focus groups of one-and-a-half to two hours each collected information on HIV-positive women's experiences with health care services for the report. The Women's Collective, a non-profit organization that works to meet the self-defined needs of women, girls and their families living with or at-risk for HIV/AIDS, organized the focus groups.
Twenty-six HIV-positive women participated in the focus groups. Participants identified and provided comments and recommendations on the following topics: definitions of reproductive and sexual health; compassion and bedside manner during medical visits; gynecologists' lack of familiarity with HIV; coordination among infectious disease providers and obstetricians/gynecologists; connecting to counseling, peer support and mental health services; disclosing to children and families; stigma within the health care field; and concerns for the aging population.
From these discussion areas, focus group participants generated a series of recommendations for policy makers, health care providers, community organizations, and HIV-positive women. The report demonstrates the importance of bringing HIV-positive women's voices to the forefront to ensure comprehensive and compassionate health care that serves a range of individually identified needs.