Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Knowledge Network for women who are living with HIV!
Throughout 2019 we will keep hosting seminars, meetings, workshops and the like. Keep an eye on our site for upcoming events.
Stigma, quality of life and what’s important for women living with HIV in Sweden today
On the 8th of November, Kunskapsnätverket together with PG Väst and Noaks Ark Göteborg och Västra Götaland organized a workshop in Gothenburg. Maria Lindberg Reinius, nurse and researcher at the Karolinska Institute (KI) presented results from her thesis on HIV related stigma and talked about quality of life for people living with HIV in Sweden today.
This is why the workshop on the topic, What is important for women who are living with HIV today?, took place. The participants took up the importance of meeting with other women living with HIV and that research om women living with HIV should be a priority. Read more
Maria Reinius stated that lately, there has been discussions on a fourth 90 % goal: the goal on life quality. Sweden is one of the first countries in the world to achieve the UNAIDS 90-90-90 goal which means that 90% of everyone living with HIV should be diagnosed, that 90 % of these should be having treatment and that 90% of these should have an undetectable viral load and therefore be living with untransmittable HIV.
Maria Reinius is today a participant in a research group working with quality of life for persons living with HIV. Through questioners and interviews with persons living with HIV (during the research) it has been established that despite access to medicines the quality of life for people living with HIV in Sweden is lower than average. Maria Reinius thesis shows that the quality of life in relation to health for people living with HIV who see themselves as stigmatized is lower/worse. A lot of those questioned in the study said that even though they don’t really dwell on their HIV status, a good number of them have experienced a difficult social status where they are constantly fighting the thoughts of whether they should tell about their status or not.
Knowledge of untransmittable HIV must reach the general public
To decrease the stigma around HIV, Maria Reinius is adamant that the public be well informed that undetectable viral load equals untransmittable HIV, U=U and also to look over the laws and regulations that can be discriminatory for people living with HIV. It is also important to work on same goals that will better the life of people living with HIV and be able to measure the quality of life plus their experiences on stigma over time.
The importance of meeting other people living with HIV
During the workshop with the theme ”What is important today for women living with HIV?” the participants listed the following points:
- To be ale to meet with other girls/women living with HIV.
- To be respected and received professionally.
- That lessons on HIV should be included in the primary level school curriculum.
- Women should be given a priority in research.
- Continuous update on knowledge regarding HIV.
- To make women living with HIV more visible, (goes together with respect, acceptance and reception).
- To emphasize health issues especially regarding the physical and social aspects.
- To react with respect and understanding to women living with HIV.
- To talk about love.
- To talk about meeting women with multiple illnesses/sicknesses with respect.
Ex: When one meets a doctor they want to be met by knowledge and not one who is illusive because then there can be confusion when one has multiple diagnosis. Most doctors are professionals in one area and it can take a lot of time and energy to have to visit an array of different doctors to get a complete diagnosis. A problem when the health system is more and more specialized.
- To be able to go to gynaecologists with knowledge of HIV in women.
If you did not have the opportunity to participate in the evenings lecture and have questions, ideas or thoughts on the subject in question, you are welcome to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Menopause – an inconvenience or new possibilities?
Menopause is the period when one transits from having periods and being fully fertile to stopping having periods. The decrease of oestrogen in the body causes an acute hormone imbalance. For many women this is an inconvenience, a bother, but for many too it can be something good.
On the 25 th of October 2018, midwife, Åsa Enervik and sexologist, Suzann Larsdotter, gave a lecture at Kunskapsnätverket on the positive and negative aspects of menopause and what one could do to decrease the negative effects. Read more
Suzann and Åsa talked about the various situations before the onset of menopause. The experiences are varied and can be very difficult both emotionally and physically. The different changes in the body can be uncomfortable and uncontrollable, for ex the onset of hot and cold sweats. One of the most common inconveniences of menopause is the huge temperature changes in the body. Dry mucus membranes and sleep disorders are also some of the common problems.
Even though many experiences some form of inconvenience with menopause, it does also have positive sides. For example, if one has had very difficult, painful periods with heavy bleeding, menopause can actually be a relief.
When does one get menopause and how long does it last?
Åsa proclaimed that the length of time for menopause is very individual. There are no distinct/obvious limits for when it starts or stops, but for most women the onset is between the ages of 40 – 55 years. One can actually say that, menopause starts about five years before the last menstruation, and can continue over a long period of time, but for many, the possible negative effects stop five years after the last menstruation. Menopause is actually the term used to describe the period after the last menstruation. When one has gone a couple of years without menstruating, then the logical conclusion is that one has menopause. Many women have irregular periods that come and go over a very long time.
Menopause party or menopause crisis?
The physical inconveniences with a direct connection to menopause and which is also connected to the decrease of oestrogen production is night sweats, sleep disorders, temperature changes and dry mucus membranes in the vagina. Others may experience even extreme mood swings, memory loss, pain in the joints dry skin, worrying and reduced sextual activity. When we consider women with HIV it can be very difficult to know which disorders are connected to menopause and which ones are caused by the side effects of both medication and/or HIV, but it can also be that the two intensify each other.
The level of discomfort varies from person to person. Some experience a lot of discomfort while others hardly feel a thing. Because menopause discomforts can be hereditary, it is possible to predict how much discomfort you are going to get just by watching your mother or grandmother, but even this can differ.
Åsa and Suzann explained that even though discomfort is common, some women actually feel better in a lot of ways when they start menopause. One can get a heightened self-esteem, be more self-assured because one has more life experiences or that one has a more relaxed relationship with one’s body. One can or may have an increased sexual desire and feel that it’s a relief not to have to worry about being pregnant.
What can one do to decrease the discomforts?
If one is suffering from menopause discomforts then one should get in touch with a doctor who would then prescribe Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Hormone treatment means the application of more oestrogen in the form of tablets, plaster or gel. For many, the treatment is most effective when started early and can help against warm flashes, sweating and sleep disorders. With disorders in the vagina or urinary tract, for ex. dryness or itchiness, a local treatment, vaginal cream, suppositories or vaginal ring can be used.
Some women are afraid to use HTR’s because it is said that oestrogen heightens the risk for cancer and blood clots, but according to Åsa one should not worry about this because before starting an oestrogen therapy, a lot of tests are done to ensure that the individual has not previously had blood clots or a risk thereof, breast cancer or cancer in the uterus membranes, or that one has not had vascular spasms, heart attack or stroke. An alternative to medicinal therapy can also be alternative therapy in the form of mindfulness and relaxation. These exercises focus om breathing technics and can actually decrease the discomforts and increase the wellbeing. Even physical exercises have proven beneficial to menopausal disorders, especially exercises where you get very sweaty and must shower. A 45 minute training three times a week for the big muscles groups, alternated with brisk walks is a great help to many.
Menopause, lust and sex
According to the World Health Organization , (WHO) sexual health is a right. Surveys actually show that older women actually want more sex and intimacy contrary to the belief that they have lost interest in sex. At the same time there are studies that show statistically that women actually experience a decrease in sexual lust in connection with menopause, but that it can depend on psychological or social aspects like one being uncomfortable with one’s body or that dry mucus membranes cause uncomfortable sex even if one is horny. Suzann thinks that if one has decreased or no sexual lust, one should start by asking themselves, ”Do I have the lust to have lust?” If one has the lust to feel lust and does not have it then there is a problem, otherwise there is no problem.
The older one gets the more time it takes to get aroused. This can be caused by aging in the blood vessels. That’s why its important to be patient, giving both yourself and your partner more time. It is also very beneficial to talk about and communicate about sex, what one wants and how you want it, and also by trying to be intimate in other ways, ex kissing and hugging can be very good.
Suzann compared this to if your eyes are failing or your ears don’t hear too well, then you get yourself eye glasses or a hearing aid. One can use the same thought process in lust and allow themselves to get help with their sex life. It can be anything from a lubricant, a vibrator, and other sex toys or arousing erotic novels, pictures or films.
If you did not get the opportunity to participate at the evenings lecture, and you have questions either to Kunskapsnätverket or to Suzann and Åsa then you are welcome to send them to email@example.com