Mentored Scientist Award

Understanding Provider Management of Menopausal Symptoms for Women Living with HIV: A Qualitative Study

Headshot of Lauren Suchman, PhD, MA
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Cisgender women living with HIV (WLHIV) are more likely to both enter menopause early and suffer from comorbidities associated with menopause, such as low bone density and cardiovascular disease, than their HIV-negative counterparts. Menopause can also increase symptom burden in WLHIV and affect antiretroviral adherence. However, these women are less likely to use menopause hormone therapy (MHT), a treatment known to minimize menopause’s effects. HIV care providers play a critical role in supporting WLHIV to use MHT if they so choose, but we know virtually nothing about how providers in the U.S. guide their patients through menopausal management, including how they counsel patients regarding MHT, and how working with safety net patients who have high unmet material (i.e. housing instability) or conflicting needs (i.e. substance use disorder) affects this. The proposed 12- month qualitative study aims to fill this gap by conducting semi-structured in-depth interviews with a subset of providers (N=24) who care for people living with HIV in San Francisco. The objective of the study is to understand the experiences of HIV care providers as they help patients navigate the menopausal transition and make decisions about MHT use. Findings will inform a proposal for a K01 grant from the NIMH to adapt a menopause management decision support tool for providers who work with WLHIV.