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  • See You at SpringBoard!

    April 29th, 2016

    Springboard dive from above

    Our annual SpringBoard conference is coming up on May 19, and this year’s presentations will look at the intersection of HIV and hepatitis C. Coinfection with HIV and hepatitis C impacts general health as well as treatment decisions for both. Hepatitis C is more infectious than HIV, and having HIV makes one more vulnerable to getting hepatitis C.

    Hepatitis C (HCV or hepC) causes inflammation of the liver, which can affect many systems in the body. HIV causes chronic inflammation throughout the body, which, as this doctor puts it, “Is like a volume control knob on a stereo being stuck—with the volume turned all the way up.”   How HIV and hepC interact can influence health a lot. Add another inflammatory disease like diabetes, and there are more health issues to manage.

    SpringBoard presenters this year will look at health and social factors influencing vulnerability, diagnosis, treatment decisions, and creating the best environment for treatment outcomes.

    Here is the full program:

    Elder Roberta Price will open the conference with a welcome.

    Gina McGowan from the BC Ministry of Health will present an update on the renewal of the Healthy Pathways Forward hepatitis action plan for BC.

    Dr. Neora Pick of Oak Tree Clinic will share how OTC is incorporating HCV treatment into HIV care for women at the Clinic.

    Deb Schmitz and Erica from the Pacific Hepatitis C Network will take a gendered-lens approach to talk about hepatitis C treatment, stigma and women.

    Sally Lin and Claudette from the Canadian Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health Cohort Study (aka CHIWOS) will complete the day. Sally and Claudette will share some of the information on HIV and hep C co-infection that they have gathered during CHIWOS interviews.

    Discussing HIV and HCV together is timely. Just last week it was announced that the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS has been awarded $5 million dollars for a research study on reducing new hepatitis C infections in BC. “By understanding how to optimize treatment outcomes, we can maximize the individual and societal impact of these very promising therapies,” said Dr. Mel Krajden, medical lead for hepatitis at the BC Centre for Disease Control.

    Part of our work at PWN is analyzing the impact of HIV and hepatitis C on women and we look forward to doing this at SpringBoard. Registration is free and lunch is included, but please RSVP so we know how many to expect. We encourage people living with or affected by HIV and HCV to attend; professionals or students working in social work or community health; and those who support women’s best health outcomes.

    One question we get often- “Are men allowed to attend?” YES! Allies are always welcome.

    Please call (604-692-3000) or email to reserve your spot.



    Janet   |   @janet_madsen

    Menopause is a hot topic for women with HIV

    April 22nd, 2016

    By Erin Seatter  |  @erinlynds

    Menopause is a hot topic at Positive Women’s Network. The intensity of the experience, coupled with the increasing numbers of women aging with HIV, makes it a much-discussed issue.Image via Pete Morawski/Flickr.

    Menopause is a natural process, said Dr. Mary Kestler from Oak Tree Clinic, who came by last Tuesday to talk with women over lunch and answer questions.

    It’s also a big issue for women living with HIV. Dr. Kestler noted that 40% of participants in the CHIWOS study indicated they were already post-menopause.

    The symptoms are what really get to women—hot flashes, exhaustion, dizziness, an irritable bladder, and vaginal dryness were all mentioned by women at the lunch.

    “The menopause is really killing me,” said one woman.

    Dr. Kestler said “it will go away,” but it could take a while, even years.

    She suggested that women should “notice if there are any triggers.”

    Hot drinks, caffeine, alcohol, and hot rooms can all cause hot flashes, so see if there’s a pattern.

    Next, women can talk to their doctor about estrogen supplements, which require a prescription. Menopausal symptoms are caused by drops in estrogen, which affects all parts of the body.

    Estrogen pills can help resolve symptoms, but it’s an individual decision that needs to be made in consultation with a doctor because there are risks. Those who smoke, have a family history of breast cancer, or are in their 60s or later may not be appropriate candidates for this treatment. It can increase the risk of blood clots, strokes, and breast cancer.

    There are also estrogen creams and suppositories, which don’t come with the same warnings. These can’t help with all menopausal symptoms, but they can treat irritability in the vulva, vagina, and urethra. This can reduce dryness and soreness, the feeling of needing to pee, and pain during urination or sex.