The menopause transition in women living with HIV: current evidence and future avenues of research
AbstractAs the life expectancy of people living with HIV improves as a result of antiretroviral therapy, increasing numbers of women living with HIV (WLHIV) are now reaching menopausal age. The menopause transition in WLHIV remains a relatively overlooked area in clinical HIV research. Whilst there is some evidence to suggest that WLHIV experience menopause at an earlier age and that they have more menopausal symptoms, there is no clear consensus in the literature around an impact of HIV infection on either timing or symptomatology of the menopause. Data are also conflicting on whether HIV-related factors such as HIV viral load and CD4 cell count have an impact on the menopause. Furthermore, menopausal symptoms in WLHIV are known to go under-recognised by both healthcare providers and women themselves. There is likely to be a burden of unmet health needs among WLHIV transitioning through the menopause, with significant gaps in the evidence base for their care. With this in mind, we have developed the PRIME study (Positive Transitions Through the Menopause). This mixed-methods observational study will explore, for the first time in the UK, the impact of the menopause on the health and wellbeing of 1500 ethnically diverse WLHIV. In establishing a cohort of women in their midlife and following them up longitudinally, we hope to develop a nuanced understanding of the gendered aspects of ageing and HIV, informing the provision of appropriate services for WLHIV to ensure that they are supported in maintaining optimal health and wellbeing as they get older.