SFU health sciences professors Allison Carter and Angela Kaida, are sharing findings of their national study on women living with HIV through a short film, HIV Made Me Fabulous. The film is produced in collaboration with women living with HIV who participated in the Canadian HIV Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Cohort Study (CHIWOS), and will premiere ahead of World AIDS Day.
In the CHIWOS study, the researchers found that one in two women living with HIV consider sex an important part of their life, yet 80 per cent of women are not satisfied with their sexual lives as a result of gender inequality, violence, stigma and discrimination within society.
"Our research with women living with HIV across Canada has shown that creating enabling environments - free of stigma, violence, and inequality - can lessen sexual health inequalities and improve wellbeing," says Carter.
Produced and directed by Edmond Kilpatrick, HIV Made Me Fabulous tells the personal story of transwoman Juno Roche, a writer and activist, who has been living with HIV for 25 years.
Narrated by Roche, the film shares evidence-based information about HIV and sexual health to promote the destigmatization of women living with HIV.
"We created this film to share a different type of story about the experiences of women living with HIV, both the struggles and the triumphs," says Kaida. "We also wanted to educate viewers about important, well-established HIV prevention science."
With medication, a person living with HIV can reduce their viral load to undetectable levels, meaning that they cannot pass on HIV to others. This is otherwise known as ’Undetectable = Untransmittable’ (U=U).
While the U=U message is liberating for people living with HIV as it offers more agency over sexual choices and reduces stigma, it is not commonly known by the general public.
The researchers hope that this film will alter people’s learned prejudices around HIV.
The film be screened publicly for the first time at an online event , hosted by CATIE and the Global Network of People Living with HIV, on Nov. 26 at 10 PST, in the lead-up to World AIDS Day 2021.