Women account for more than half of all individuals living with HIV globally. Despite increasing drug and HIV epidemics among women, females who use drugs are rarely found in research, harm reduction programs, or drug and HIV treatment and care. Women who use drugs continue to face challenges that increase their vulnerability to HIV and other co-morbidities due to high rates of gender-based violence, human rights violations, incarceration, and institutional and societal stigmatization.
This special issue emphasizes how the burdens of HIV, drug use and their co-occurring epidemics affect women in a global context. Papers included focus on the epidemiology of HIV, HCV and other co-morbidities; HIV treatment, prevention, and care; and policies affecting the lives of female who use drugs. This issue also highlights the state of the science of biomedical and behavioral research related to women who use drugs.
The final paper highlights the major findings of papers covered and presents a call to action regarding needed research, treatment, and preventive services for women who use drugs. To address these needs, we advocate for women-specific thinking and approaches that considers the social, micro, and macro contexts of women’s lives. We present a woman-specific risk environment framework that reflects the unique lives and contexts of women who use drugs and provide a call to action for intervention, prevention, and policies.