Published January, 2012

HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health in the District of Columbia, The Women's Collective, Center for Women's Policy Studies (2012)

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. Par- ticipants 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.