Women's Health Inter-Network Scientific Committee

Download Scientific Research Agenda (PDF - 18 KB)

In the US in 2009, women accounted for 27% of the new HIV infections and 25% of the new AIDS diagnoses in the US. [http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/surveillance/resources/reports/2009report/pdf/table2a.pdf (PDF - 309 KB) http://kff.org/hivaids/fact-sheet/women-and-hivaids-in-the-united-states/]. The disease in the US occurs disproportionately among women of color. Among the 10,255 adult and adolescent females diagnosed with HIV infection in 2009, 65% were Black, 17% were white and 16% were Latina; most of these women acquired HIV through heterosexual transmission (70% among white women and 83% among Black and Latina women).

Women living with HIV represent 50% of the epidemic worldwide. In sub-Sahara Africa, up to 60% of people living with HIV are women. In 2009, UNAIDS estimated that 33.3 million (31.4 million - 35.3 million) people in the world were living with HIV infection and 15.9 million were women. Heterosexual sex is a dominant mode of HIV acquisition in women globally.

Summary of the WHISC Agenda

The primary mission of the WHISC is to develop optimal strategies for the prevention and treatment of HIV disease and related complications among women and to determine the pathogenesis of manifestations that are unique to women. The WHISC serves as liaison with other groups conducting research relevant to HIV-infected women and serves as an advisory committee in addressing issues such as reproductive decisions and contraception in clinical trials. There is broad representation on the WHISC from other pertinent committees and groups, which allows the WHISC to anticipate future research challenges through the rapid dissemination of new data from the various research groups.

The WHISC sees a woman's life as a continuum (childhood, adolescence, adulthood, pregnancy, and menopause) and care during her life should not be fragmented. The WHISC believes that HIV-infected women should have their health care needs managed comprehensively throughout the continuum of life. The WHISC therefore will work closely with other Networks/organizations to help achieve this goal.

General aims or goals of the WHISC are as follows:

  • To assess optimal therapy of HIV/AIDS in women and girls over the course of their lifetime;
  • To examine the impact of contraception, hormonal interventions, and pregnancy on the health of HIV-infected women;
  • To evaluate co-infections that specifically effect women (e.g., HPV disease including vulvar, anal, and cervical dysplasia and related cancers) and to evaluate opportunistic infections and treatment effects in women (e.g., TB in pregnant women);
  • To examine interactions between gender, body-mass index, pharmacokinetic parameters, and antiretroviral toxicity;
  • To work with the ACTG/IMPAACT Scientific and Resource Committees to optimize the design, conduct, and analysis of clinical trials in order to maximize the recruitment and retention of women into clinical trials;
  • To act as liaison between groups involved in either the care of or conduct of research with HIV-infected women. The WHISC will serve as the link between different HIV/AIDS related networks (ACTG, IMPAACT, HPTN, HVTN) and organizations (e.g., WIHS, HANC) that may impact the care of HIV infected women;
  • To act as an advisory committee regarding ACTG/IMPAACT clinical trial language and recommendations regarding reproductive, contraception, and pregnancy issues.