Improvements in survival due to advances in antiretroviral therapy (ART) have led to a shift in the age distribution of those receiving HIV care, with increasing numbers of women living with HIV (WLHIV) reaching menopausal age. We present a narrative literature review of 26 studies exploring the menopause transition in WLHIV, focusing on: (1) natural history (2) symptomatology and management, and (3) immunologic and virologic effects. Data are conflicting on the association between HIV and earlier age at menopause, and the role of HIV-specific factors such as HIV viral load and CD4 count. There are some data to suggest that WLHIV experience more vasomotor and psychological symptoms during the menopause than HIV-negative women, and that uptake of hormone replacement therapy by WLHIV is comparatively low. There is no evidence that menopause affects either CD4 count or response to ART, although there may be increased immune activation in older WLHIV. We conclude that menopause in WLHIV is a neglected area of study. Specific information gaps include qualitative studies on experiences of reproductive ageing; data on the impact of the menopause on women's quality of life and ability to adhere to health-sustaining behaviors; as well as studies investigating the safety and efficacy of pharmacological and psychosocial interventions. There is likely to be a burden of unmet health need among this growing population, and better data are required to inform optimal provision of care, supporting WLHIV to maintain their health and wellbeing into their post-reproductive years.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
ST is funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) in the form of a postdoctoral fellowship (PDF-2014-07-071). Any views expressed in this paper are those of the authors, and not necessarily those of the funders.
ST has previously received a travel bursary funded by Janssen-Cilag through the British HIV Association. ST and JA are members of the steering group of SWIFT, a networking group for people involved in research in HIV and women, funded by Bristol Myers Squibb.
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