“I’m hoping that this research will help us to develop a framework that enables us to adopt a tailored approach to care for the specific needs of women living with HIV, and thereby promote healthy aging in this group.”
Dr. Elizabeth King is an infectious disease specialist who joined the CTN as a Postdoctoral Fellow in July 2020 to investigate the evolution of menopausal symptoms in women living with HIV. This project aims to provide much needed knowledge on the experience of menopause among women living with HIV and help inform a future randomized controlled trial of menopausal hormone therapy for this population.
Dr. King has been interested in how HIV affects women’s health for quite some time.
“Early on in my training, myself and colleagues clinically observed that women living with HIV would often miss their periods. I was interested in finding out why this happened and whether HIV and its associated factors might change the way that women experience their reproductive health,” says Dr. King. “This observation was my motivation to take on research projects in this area, and through research with Dr. Melanie Murray at the Oak Tree Clinic, we were able to show that women with HIV have a high prevalence of amenorrhea (missed periods) and that this may affect other aspects of their health including bone health.”
As she commences her postdoctoral training, under the supervision of Drs. Melanie Murray and Mona Loutfy, Dr. King hopes to build on these findings and explore reproductive health outcomes for older women living with HIV, specifically during menopause.
“This is really important because more and more women with HIV are entering into their menopausal years,” says Dr. King. “I predict that, similar to early reproductive life, women living with HIV will have different experiences and concerns throughout the menopause process than HIV-negative women.”
Ultimately, Dr. King wants to empower women living with HIV through understanding the menopausal experience and providing guidance to care providers.
“We know that this group has unique health concerns that are not being fully addressed with our current models of care. I’m hoping that this research will help us to develop a framework that will enable us to adopt a tailored approach to care for the specific needs of this population, and thereby promote healthy aging in this group,” she explains.
Looking to the future, Dr. King would like to expand on her research in women’s health and HIV, and explore the impact of hormonal replacement therapy in menopausal women living with the virus, a therapy that it underutilized and may be beneficial. Further to this, she would like to become a clinician-scientist at a Canadian academic centre and continue to explore the impact of infectious diseases on chronic comorbidities.
To watch Elizabeth’s latest CTN presentation, click here.