Objective: To compare sexual problems among HIV-positive and HIV-negative women and describe clinical and psychosocial factors associated with these problems.
Design: Data were collected during a study visit of the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS). The WIHS studies the natural and treated history of HIV among women in the United States.
Methods: Between October 01, 2006, and March 30, 2007, 1805 women (1279 HIV positive and 526 HIV negative) completed a study visit that included administration of the Female Sexual Function Index. In addition, the visit included completion of standardized interviewer-administered surveys, physical and gynecological examinations, and blood sample collection.
Results: Women with HIV reported greater sexual problems than did those without HIV. Women also reported lower sexual function if they were classified as menopausal, had symptoms indicative of depression, or if they reported not being in a relationship. CD4+ cell count was associated with Female Sexual Function Index scores, such that those with CD4 ≤199 cells per microliter reported lower functioning as compared with those whose cell count was 200 or higher.
Conclusions: Given research documenting relationships between self-reported sexual problems and both clinical diagnoses of sexual dysfunction and women's quality of life, greater attention to this issue as a potential component of women's overall HIV care is warranted.