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Care of Women with HIV Living in Limited-Resource Settings Reproductive Health. Jean R. Anderson, MD Director Johns Hopkins HIV Women’s Health Program. Goals. To identify women with HIV and serve as entry into care To identify and treat symptomatic gynecologic disorders

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Care of women with hiv living in limited resource settings reproductive health l.jpg

Care of Women with HIV Living in Limited-Resource SettingsReproductive Health

Jean R. Anderson, MDDirector

Johns Hopkins HIV Women’s Health Program

Goals l.jpg

  • To identify women with HIV and serve as entry into care

  • To identify and treat symptomatic gynecologic disorders

  • To prevent the development of cervical cancer

  • To prevent transmission to sexual partners

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Identification of Women with HIV

  • Women seen for reproductive healthcare:

    • Sexually active

    • Pregnant or at risk for pregnancy

    • Signs or symptoms of genital tract infection

  • Information and counseling about HIV

  • Personal risk assessment

  • VCT

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Contraception for Women with HIV

  • Condoms

    • Prevent HIV transmission and STI acquisition

    • Male and female condoms

  • Spermicides

    • Activity against GC, chlamydia

    • Possible increase in mucosal irritation and genital ulcers, especially with frequent use

    • Recent UNAIDS clinical trial in Africa and Thailand found significantly higher HIV seroconversion rates in nonoxynol-9 users

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Contraception for Women with HIV

  • Diaphragm

    • Limited STI protection

    • No significant protection against HIV transmission

  • IUD

    • No increase in infection-related complications noted

    • No increase in cervical HIV shedding (measured 4 months after IUD insertion)

    • No STI or HIV protection

    • Increased menstrual flow and duration may increase transmission risk and risk of anemia

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Contraception for Women with HIV

  • Hormonal methods: oral contraceptive pills, DMPA, Norplant

    • No significant STI or HIV protection

    • May increase genital tract HIV shedding

  • Voluntary sterilization

    • No STI or HIV protection

    • Decreased risk of PID

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  • Reinforce male or female condom use with at-risk women when prevention of pregnancy is not needed

    • Postmenopause

    • Pregnancy

    • Infertility

    • Use of more effective contraceptive methods

  • Store condoms in cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight

  • Use only water-based lubrication or appropriate spermicide

  • Instruct client in proper use

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Gynecologic Problems More Often Associated with HIV-Infected Women

  • Menstrual disorders

  • Genital ulcer disease

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease

  • HPV, cervical dysplasia and neoplasia

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Menstrual Disorders Women

  • Common, but unclear relationship to HIV

  • Must consider possibility of pregnancy

  • May reflect malnutrition or chronic disease

  • Anemia an independent predictor of HIV progression and death

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Menstrual Disorders Interventions Women

  • Iron supplementation and/or iron-rich foods

  • Pregnancy testing

    • Antenatal care

    • Ectopic pregnancy precautions

  • Treat underlying STI

  • Hormonal contraception may decrease blood loss, regulate menses with ovulatory disorders

  • Surgical intervention may be needed with severe menorrhagia and fibroids

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STIs and HIV Women

  • Clinical manifestations of some STIs altered in presence of HIV.

  • STIs, both ulcerative and nonulcerative, facilitate HIV transmission 2-5 fold.

    • Disruption of epithelial barrier

    • Increased number of receptors per cell

    • Increased genital HIV viral load

  • Enhanced syndromic treatment of STIs resulted in 38% decrease in HIV seroconversion over 2 years (Mwanza, Tanzania).

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Genital Ulcer Disease Women

Wilkinson and Stone, 1995; Fig 8.46

J. Anderson, MD, ed.

Holmes, 1999; Plate 32



Herpes Simplex

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Apthous Ulcerations Women

J. Anderson, MD, ed.

J. Anderson, MD, ed.

Apthous Oral Ulcerations

Apthous Genital Ulcerations

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Genital Ulcer Disease Women

  • Other Causes

    • Lymphogranuloma venereum

    • Granuloma inguinale (Donovanosis)

    • Neoplasm

  • Syndromic Management

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Causes of Abnormal Vaginal Discharge Women

  • Vaginitis

    • Bacterial vaginosis

      • Overgrowth of anaerobic/facultative anaerobic flora

      • Associated with increased risk of PID, preterm labor, PROM

      • May enhance HIV transmission

    • Candidiasis

      • May increase in frequency with progressive HIV disease

      • Common after antibiotic treatment

    • Trichomoniasis

      • Transmitted sexually

      • Sex partner treatment needed

    • Syndromic Management

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Causes of Abnormal Vaginal Discharge Women

  • Cervicitis

    • Gonorrhea

    • Chlamydia

    • Limitations of syndromic management

      • Use local prevalence data, if available

      • Risk assessment

      • Additional symptoms/signs – cervical swab to assess purulence

      • Partner treatment

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Pelvic Inflammatory Disease Women

  • Minimal criteria for diagnosis

    • Lower abdominal tenderness

    • Adnexal tenderness

    • Cervical motion tenderness

  • Simple supporting signs

    • Fever >38.3°C

    • Abnormal discharge

  • Rule out pregnancy

  • In presence of HIV infection, PID may be more common and more severe

  • Oral versus IV therapy

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Estimated Number of New Cervical Cancer Cases per Year, 1990 Women


















Developing Countries

Source: Pisani P. Outlook 16:1-8,1998.

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Cervical Cancer Linked to Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection

  • One or more oncogenic types of HPV found in over 99% of cases

  • HPV is sexually transmitted

    • Women usually are infected with HPV in their teens or 20s

    • Cervical cancer can develop up to 20 years after HPV infection

Source: Walboomers et al 1999

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HPV Infection and HIV Infection

  • HIV-infected women have

    • Higher prevalence of HPV

    • Longer persistence of HPV

    • Higher likelihood of multiple HPV subtypes

    • Greater prevalence of oncogenic subtypes

  • Prevalence and persistence of HPV increase with declining immune function.

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Cervical Dysplasia and Neoplasia in Women with HIV Infection

  • Rates of cervical dysplasia 10-11x greater than those observed in HIV-negative women

  • Frequency and severity of cervical dysplasia increase with advancing HIV disease

  • Shortened time from HPV infection to dysplasia and cancer without adequate screening and treatment programs

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Cervical Dysplasia and Neoplasia in Women with HIV Infection

  • Dysplasia associated with more extensive cervical involvement and more likely to involve other sites in the lower genital tract

  • Increased incidence of recurrence after treatment for cervical dysplasia

  • Invasive cervical cancer appears to present at more advanced stages and has poorer responses to standard therapy

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Prevention of Cervical Cancer Infection

  • Possible role for VIA and cryotherapy (test, treat/refer)

  • Careful visual inspection of vulva, vagina, perianal region

  • Excisional or ablative treatment – may need to treat larger areas of cervix

  • More frequent followup after treatment

  • Use antimetabolite vaginal cream (5-fluorouracil)

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What is VIA? Infection

  • Visual inspection with acetic acid

  • Applying dilute (3-5%) acetic acid (vinegar) to the cervix then viewing it with the naked eye to detect abnormalities

  • Acetic acid enhances and marks a precancerous lesion or cancer by turning it a whitish hue (acetowhite change).



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Why VIA is a Practical Alternative Infectionto Pap Smears

  • Safe, easy to perform and inexpensive

  • Can be learned by all types of healthcare professionals

  • All equipment and supplies are available locally

  • Results are available immediately

  • Potential for immediate link to outpatient treatment

  • Suitable for lowest-resource settings

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Test Qualities of VIA When Performed in Low-Resource Settings

Source: McIntosh N et al (eds). Cervical Cancer Prevention Guidelines for Low-Resource Settings. JHPIEGO, 2000.