Let Women Talk — Sarah Feagan & Mina John

In this video episode of Let Women Talk, HIV community advocate Sarah Feagan speaks with Mina John who is a staff consultant in a large HIV service provided by the Department of Immunology at Royal Perth Hospital where 32% of the program’s clients are women. She presented at the 2019 Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference held in Perth on 17-19 September about HIV infection in women.

About the presentation

One of the topics which Mina presented spoke of disproportionate HIV burden among young women globally. In Western Australia, although HIV notifications have fallen since 2016, there is a relative increase in new HIV diagnoses in females, with higher proportions in this number of women who were born overseas, or women acquiring HIV overseas. Also, why are females are more likely to acquire HIV with fewer sex partners versus males? Some of the factors are biological — meaning that there is a higher risk of HIV infection per sexual exposure for females compared to males. For example, due to the large cervical–vaginal mucosal surface area, semen can stay in the vagina for up to 3 days; and microabrasions can occur during coitus that allow an entry for the virus.

There are challenges and barriers for women and their retention in HIV care. In an Australian study of approximately 500 women who were surveyed across all states/territories, those barriers included transport, carer responsibilities, financial pressure, language, health beliefs and concern about stigma or disclosure.

Find out about Let Women Talk

Let Women Talk is a NAPWHA community-led health literacy initiative where HIV community advocates incorporate their rich perspectives and diverse lived HIV experiences back into strengthening community health responses — where women design and develop the health content and interventions that they want to see and hear. The initiative is one of many activities forming part of the HIV Health Literacy Framework Project, a NAPWHA project supported through the funding of ViiV Healthcare Australia.

Hear other video episodes

In this series, Sarah Feagan reports back from the 2019 Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference aiming to translate research back into community practice.

Who’s in this interview?

Mina John is a Clinical Immunologist and Immunopathologist. She is a staff consultant in a large HIV service provided by the Department of Immunology at Royal Perth Hospital and holds a research appointment with the Institute of Immunology and Infectious Diseases (IIID) at Murdoch University.

Sarah Feagan is a queer women who has been living with HIV since 2008. She is the previous chair of Positive Women Victoria and has recently joined the team at Living Positive Victoria as a Peer Navigator. She also the Vice President of NAPWHA. Sarah is a co-facilitator of Phoenix for Women and the Positive Leadership Development Institute (PLDi). Sarah has unique approach to her advocacy and is inspired by the lived experience of the body positive to inform her practice. Sarah’s advocacy spans from the grass roots all the way up to high level governance. She has a global outlook with a local focus to bringing the community along with her.

Let Women Talk — Sarah Feagan & Deborah Bateson

In this video episode of Let Women Talk, HIV community advocate Sarah Feagan speaks with Dr Deborah Bateson — Medical Director at Family Planning New South Wales, who presented at the 2019 Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference held in Perth on 17-19 September, about contraception, choice and women living with HIV. In this video, Deborah mentions that while all contraceptive methods are potentially suitable for women with HIV, that its important for clinicians to be informed of potential antiretroviral (ART) drug interactions in order to support informed decision-making for their patients. Sarah and Deborah also make mention of the contraceptive injection (sold as Depo-Provera® or Depo-Ralovera® in Australia) and also another injectable which may be on the Australian market soon (see: Sayana Press). In terms of a male contraceptive option that is in the pipeline for Australian consumers, but still far from approval, Vasalgel, a long-term reversible contraceptive gel injected, has been in the works since 2010.

About the presentation

Women living with HIV who wish to plan or avoid a pregnancy require information about all methods of contraception and should be supported in making an informed choice about the method that best suits their individual needs. Considerations that are common to all individuals such as desire for non-contraceptive benefits for acne or menstrual symptoms, the need for discretion, religious beliefs, costs and personal preference remain relevant.

However, in relation to HIV, specific consideration needs to be given to the effect of the contraceptive method on disease progression and transmission, antiretroviral drug interactions, the presence of other chronic medical conditions and the need for protection from other sexually transmissible infections (STI). The presentation provided an overview of the current (and future) contraceptive options recommended for women living with HIV in order to support informed decision-making.

Related links

Find out about Let Women Talk

Let Women Talk is a NAPWHA community-led health literacy initiative where HIV community advocates incorporate their rich perspectives and diverse lived HIV experiences back into strengthening community health responses — where women design and develop the health content and interventions that they want to see and hear. The initiative is one of many activities forming part of the HIV Health Literacy Framework Project, a NAPWHA project supported through the funding of ViiV Healthcare Australia.

Hear other video episodes

In this series, Sarah Feagan reports back from the 2019 Australasian HIV&AIDS Conference aiming to translate research back into community practice.

Who’s in this interview?

Deborah Bateson is the Medical Director at Family Planning New South Wales. She has an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry from Oxford University (MA Oxon), a Masters degree in Human Nutrition from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a medical degree from the University of Hong Kong. Deborah was Chair then Co-chair of the Australasian Sexual Health Alliance from 2015 to 2017.

Sarah Feagan is a queer women who has been living with HIV since 2008. She is the previous chair of Positive Women Victoria and has recently joined the team at Living Positive Victoria as a Peer Navigator. She also the Vice President of NAPWHA. Sarah is a co-facilitator of Phoenix for Women and the Positive Leadership Development Institute (PLDi). Sarah has unique approach to her advocacy and is inspired by the lived experience of the body positive to inform her practice. Sarah’s advocacy spans from the grass roots all the way up to high level governance. She has a global outlook with a local focus to bringing the community along with her.