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Women for Positive Action Highlight Ongoing Need for More Research Into Gender Differences in HIV Outcomes

LONDON, November 29, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

To mark Worlds AIDS Day (December 1, 2012), Women for Positive Action has released a commentary highlighting the shortage of women in HIV clinical trials (currently only ~20%) and discussing recent scientific papers reporting gender-related differences in virologic and clinical outcomes with combination antiretroviral therapy. The commentary, available at:, emphasises the need to collect gender-specific data in HIV research so that clinical decisions regarding therapy can be guided appropriately.

Sharon Walmsley, HIV Physician, Canada and faculty member of Women for Positive Action explains "Extrapolation from data derived from male participants in clinical trials to females is not appropriate, and it is poor science. Only with data on the specific effects (both positive and negative) of interventions in women will we have the knowledge to apply to women's care and optimise future outcomes. It is no longer enough to simply report on gender distribution - researchers need to consider gender in the planning and analysis stages of clinical trials." The commentary, developed by Sharon Walmsley, Mona Loutfy, Lorraine Sherr, Karine Lacombe and Ophelia Haanyama Ørum on behalf of Women for Positive Action provides further expert opinion on the implications of the lack of data focussing specifically on women living with HIV.

"Many of the studies we have reviewed indicate that women may fare worse with regard to HIV outcomes. This may be as a result of biological, behavioural, pharmacological and social differences between women and men," added Annette Piecha, member of the German Therapy Activists Network DCAB HIV and the European AIDS Treatment Group. "Understanding the specific effect of the disease and treatment is a key step in improving the lives of women and working towards bridging gender inequalities in HIV."

Women for Positive Action is a coalition of healthcare professionals, community representatives and women living with HIV from across Europe, Canada, Latin America and South Africa established to explore and address the issues faced by women living with HIV and those involved in their care. For more information visit the website

Notes to Editors

Although women represent 50% of people living with HIV globally and are one of the fastest growing population groups at risk for HIV infection, relatively little research has looked at women-specific issues, and women only account for about 20% of participants in clinical trials of HIV to date. As part of its mission Women for Positive Action aims to raise awareness around recent and ongoing studies that focus on women. Visit the multilingual website for further information about Women for Positive Action and ongoing projects; alternatively please also follow us on Twitter @WFPA_HIV. Women for Positive Action is an educational program funded and initiated by Abbott Laboratories.


  1. UNAIDS Report. Global HIV/AIDS Response 2011. Available at:
  2. Soon G G et al. (2012) Meta-analysis of gender differences in efficacy outcomes for HIV-positive subjects in randomized controlled clinical trials of antiretroviral therapy (2000-2008). AIDS Patient Care STDS; 26(8): 444-53

For further information please contact the Women for Positive Action secretariat:


Twitter: @WFPA_HIV

Tel: +44(0)20-7632-1969

Address: Women for Positive Action, Program Secretariat, Litmus MME, 151 Shaftesbury Avenue, London WC2H 8AL, United Kingdom

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