A new survey of 180 women living with HIV identifies the challenges they face in connecting to HIV care. A report of the findings was released by the Positive Women’s Network–USA (PWN-USA) on Thursday, March 10, to coincide with National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD).

The hope is that the information gathered from the PWN-USA survey will help inform medical care and service delivery for women living with the virus. Most (67 percent) of the respondents were black, and “significant numbers” were low-income and unstably housed.

When asked the question “What one thing would help you stay in care?” respondents answered:

25%     Transportation

18%     Case management

17%     Connection with other women living with HIV

11%     Access to HIV specialist

10%     Evening and weekend clinic hours

7%       Other

6%       Assistance paying for insurance

6%       Assistance paying for medication

Breaking the information down further, the report also notes:

50% of respondents who had missed a medical appointment in the past year cited transportation as the reason.

32% of respondents had missed filling a prescription for HIV medications in the past year.  Primary reasons were: lack of transportation (24%), copay cost (15%), and pharmacy hours (11%).

50% of participants who reported needing child care services on site at their medical provider did not receive those services.

17% of respondents had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

64.9% had been diagnosed with depression.

Nearly two-thirds (64.6%) of respondents reported that they would like to see someone for counseling or therapy. Of those, 59% were able to access therapy as needed.  Others reported that cost, lack of coverage, lack of available services or waitlists for services presented a barrier.

The report concludes with a series of recommendations, such as expanding the sexual and reproductive health care services throughout the Ryan White Program, enhancing the availability of mental health services and instituting trauma-informed practices.

For more about the report, click here.

And to read a POZ opinion piece about trauma-informed practices, click here.