The Canadian HIV Women's Sexual and Reproductive Health Cohort Study (CHIWOS) (pronounced “chee-wose”) is a national, longitudinal, community-based research study that aims to create new knowledge about the gendered barriers and facilitators to HIV treatment and care for women living with HIV in Canada.
Enrolling in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec, with plans to expand to other provinces, study participants complete a peer-administered survey at baseline, with a follow-up survey at 18 months. More information about the CHIWOS study can be found in our October 2013 blog post.
A team of women living with HIV, researchers, clinicians, service providers, and policy-makers from across the country established CHIWOS in 2011 in response to an increase in HIV cases among women in Canada (12% in 1999 vs. 23% in 2012) and a long-standing need for gender transformative HIV research. Since then, the CHIWOS team has spent more than two years laying the foundation for a successful study, from building strong community-academic partnerships, to conducting focus groups with women living with the virus to listen to their voices and priorities, to hiring and training an incredible team of 38 Peer Research Associates (PRAs) from across the country to assist with all stages of the research process.
On October 1 2013, our national study was officially launched and the community response has been electric! In one year, over 1,030 women living with HIV (of our target 1,400) have been enrolled and surveyed in our study across Canada.
The women represent diverse communities, with approximately 25% of Aboriginal ancestry and 32% identifying as African, Caribbean or Black Canadian. Roughly 9% are 16-29 years of age, 63% are 30-49 years, and 21% are 50 years and older. More than 50 transgendered people and 130 lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and two-spirited women have participated in our study. Nearly 85% of women are currently taking antiretroviral therapy.
The demographics of CHIWOS participants reflect the diversity of women living with HIV in Canada.
We are still looking to recruit roughly 370 participants across Canada. We hope that more women living with HIV – particularly young women (under 30), trans women, women in rural and remote locations, and women from other under-represented communities – will be encouraged to participate, so that their voices and priorities will be heard.
In doing so, women themselves are acting as agents of change for their own health and the health of their communities by contributing to research that will help to define how best to treat and care for women living with HIV in Canada and globally.
On behalf of our entire CHIWOS team, we thank all the staff, scientists, collaborators, and most importantly women living with HIV (including our PRAs, participants, and partners) whose commitment and dedication over the past year (and more!) have made the accomplishments of CHIWOS possible. It is a tremendous honour and privilege to be involved in this study and to have met so many inspiring women and allies along the way. We look forward to sharing national study findings during the months and years ahead.
Allison Carter, CHIWOS Provincial Coordinator (BC)
All publications, presentations, news releases, and other CHIOWS materials are available on the CHIWOS website at www.chiwos.ca. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for up-to-the-minute study news and highlights, and all things related to HIV and women’s health!
For more information or to participate, please contact a Study Coordinator in your region:
BC: Allison Carter,
, 604-806-8615, 1-855-506-8615 (Toll-free)
ON: Jamie Thomas-Pavanel,
, 416-351-3800 ext: 2323
QC: Karène Proulx-Boucher,
, 514-934-1934 ext: 32146
CHIWOS is supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Gender and Health, CIHR Canadian HIV Trials Network (CTN 262), the Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN), and the Academic Health Science Centres (AHSC) Alternative Funding Plans (AFP) Innovation Fund