Ageing and healthy sexuality among women living with HIV

Manjulaa Narasimhan, Caitlin Payne, Stephanie Caldas, John R. Beard, Caitlin E. Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Populations around the world are rapidly ageing and effective treatment for HIV means women living with HIV (WLHIV) can live longer, healthier lives. HIV testing and screening programmes and safer sex initiatives often exclude older sexually active WLHIV. Systematically reviewing the literature to inform World Health Organization guidelines on the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of WLHIV, identified four studies examining healthy sexuality among older WLHIV. In Uganda, WLHIV reported lower rates of sexual activity and rated sex as less important than men. In the United States, HIV stigma, disclosure, and body image concerns, among other issues, were described as inhibiting relationship formation and safer sexual practices. Sexual activity declined similarly over time for all women, including for WLHIV who reported more protected sex, while a significant minority of WLHIV reported unprotected sex. A single intervention, the “ROADMAP” intervention, demonstrated significant increases in HIV knowledge and decreases in HIV stigma and high risk sexual behaviour. WLHIV face ageist discrimination and other barriers to remaining sexually active and maintaining healthy sexual relationships, including challenges procuring condoms and seeking advice on safe sex practices, reduced ability to negotiate safer sex, physical and social changes associated with menopause, and sexual health challenges due to disability and comorbidities. Normative guidance does not adequately address the SRHR of older WLHIV, and while this systematic review highlights the paucity of data, it also calls for additional research and attention to this important area.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-51
Number of pages9
JournalReproductive Health Matters
Issue number48
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • ageing
  • sexual health
  • sexuality
  • women living with HIV

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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