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Barriers exist
for women in need of AIDS vaccine

Barriers exist
for women in need of AIDS vaccine

New research suggests that public health officials must respond to concerns about stigma and vaccine-induced infection if women are to take full advantage of eventual HIV vaccines, Women's Health Weekly reports. Peter A. Newman of the University of Toronto and colleagues from the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles County Health Department conducted a series of focus groups with health care providers and women from at-risk populations in Los Angeles.

As disincentives to immunization, the women reported they worried about being labeled gay or promiscuous if they took the vaccine, contracting HIV/AIDS from the vaccine, power dynamics (the influence of husbands in denial about their own risky behaviors), affordability, reproductive side effects, and discrimination in obtaining the vaccine.

On the other hand, the women identified strong motivations for getting vaccinated, including empowerment to protect themselves against HIV. Others wanted to ensure their children would be protected.

Women and health care providers suggested the vaccine be delivered as part of routine care, thus avoiding having to confront their partners, and removing the stigma of obtaining care from HIV-identified services. "Vaccines must be easy to obtain and affordable and women's particular concerns must be addressed, or HIV vaccines will have limited success among the people most vulnerable to infection," Newman said. He noted that the first generation of HIV vaccines could be available within 10 years.

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