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Media Release

On Tuesday 9 March, National Network of Women Living with HIV (Femfatales), celebrate the 6th National Day of Women Living with HIV  (#NDWLHIV).

Our 2021 theme ‘Taking Control of Our Health’, reminds all women, regardless of our HIV status, to focus on our own health and wellbeing.

During the recent and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have neglected or postponed our sexual and reproductive health checks. Now is the time to resume our crucially important health tests, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, cervical screening tests, breast checks and sexual health screens including a HIV test, said Ms Katherine Leane, Chair of Femfatales.

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which commonly affects all sexually active adults, both men and women, poses an increased health risk for women living with HIV,” said Ms Leane.

“We live with an risk of developing cervical cancer roughly six times higher than people who are HIV-negative. We also have anywhere between seven to 28 times higher the risk of invasive anal cancer compared with the general female population.”

“Given this increased risk of HPV-related cancers, early detection is vital and saves women’s lives. Regular sexual health checks and HIV screening protects the health of all women, living with HIV or not. When HIV is disregarded as a possible cause of illness in women, we are not offered HIV testing and diagnosed late. This in turn impacts our long-term sexual, emotional, reproductive, neurocognitive and immune health.

“In Australia, ten percent of people living with HIV are women, which means there is around 3,495 women living with HIV in Australia today”, says Ms Leane.

Taking control of our health is about more than just our physical medical care, it includes positive self-care which encompasses our physical and emotional wellbeing, maintaining honest, open and frank conversation with our healthcare professionals and positive self-regard for our needs.

“Heterosexual transmission of HIV has risen in recent years and all sexually active women deserve to be offered regular STI tests, including HIV, free of judgement, stigma or perceived risk,” said Ms. Leane.

On this National Day, let’s make time to celebrate the resilience of women living with HIV, by hosting an event and raise the awareness and profile of woman living with HIV in Australia.

For media comments

Contact Katherine Leane, Chair of Femfatales, 0410 707 923
Contact Diane Lloyd, Femfatales member in Western Australia, 0405 415 928

For more information

See also events in the community release of this statement ‘Taking control of our health’ marks the theme of 2021 National Day of Women Living with HIV’ published on 19 February 2021

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