BY: CLAIRE KIM
Although HIV is more common in females than males, more than half of the workforce in line with HIV and AIDS is all male. From a certain perspective, this may seem like a trivial issue, however, it is important to consider the number of consequences that come into play with such regulations intact. Firstly, we have to realize that “women make up just over half of the 35 million people living with H.I.V. worldwide, and the virus is the leading cause of death among women of reproductive age” (New York Times). If this is fairly accurate, then women should be a major source of input when creating HIV specialized medications as they would serve as crucial models for improvement based on personal experience. Secondly, we have to take note that women and men have different bodies, which means that hormones and other bodily cells contrast to some degree. Especially in the case of an HIV infection, women and men respond differently to the disease thus making it hard to argue that men are really the best doctors to claim full knowledge over how a woman’s body can respond or react. In fact, it makes more sense to give women the handle in such cases, as they would be more familiar with the female body to an extent which men can’t grasp as well.
Though symptoms upon HIV infections may be similar between men and women at first, “women progress faster to AIDS than infected men and are more likely to have heart attacks and strokes” (New York Times) in the future.
Hormones, such as the female hormone estrogen is a good example of what can happen when women are infected with HIV in contrast to men. When an HIV infection occurs, estrogen can pacify the virus into a dormant state, which demands more from the immune system than it can handle. Because this “dormant effect” allows the virus to grow stronger more impact is needed from medication to battle it out. In this case, women must gain stronger medication than men even though HIV infected in anybody causes harm.
HIV isn’t the only virus or infection that reacts differently in men and women, there is definitely a broader variety. With this in mind, it is important to broaden the scope of women in the healthcare field so that opinions from feminine backgrounds can be heard when making appropriate medical decisions. Women are not subordinate to men, and medicine should not be advocating this message anymore.
“If we’re going to find a cure, it’s important that we find a cure that actually works for everybody,” said Rowena Johnston, AMFAR’s director of research.