FLEX Spotlight: New booklet supports women+ living with HIV approaching menopause 

December 11, 2023

Leanne Flinton stands in front of her poster research board.As part of a *FLEX project for her MD undergraduate studies, NMP Class of 2026 student Leanne Flinton decided to pursue an initiative aimed at helping to further support healthy aging in women+ living with HIV.

The project focused on the creation of a booklet which provides information to women+ living with HIV who are approaching menopause, which is the hormonal transition that happens at midlife. The booklet was designed with a large team of women+ living with HIV and multidisciplinary service providers such as obstetrician-gynecologists, pharmacists, and infectious disease doctors.

Photo: NMP student Leanne Flinton with her research poster that highlights her FLEX project on helping women+ living with HIV.

Leanne’s former work experience helped inspire her to undertake the project.

“I previously worked as a community health educator for a HIV/AIDS organization during COVID and am passionate about knowledge translation,” says Leanne, who is currently in Year 2 at the NMP. “I saw an opportunity in the FLEX catalogue to work with Dr. Elizabeth King at SFU, and through her larger connections to the British Columbia CARMA-CHIWOS Collaboration [BCC3], and Canadian HIV Women's Sexual and Reproductive Health Cohort Study [CHIWOS], we were able to help address a gap in knowledge.”

The booklet is designed to be used interactively and features QR codes that provide readers with more information, as well as areas to record notes, questions and symptoms that can be used as a memory aide or conversation starter at care appointments. 

“I hope the booklet we created can be used by women+ living with HIV as a resource for supporting the midlife hormonal transition,” explains Leanne. “There is a lack of accessible information surrounding menopause for women+ living with HIV, and this project worked to produce an interactive deliverable that can be used to promote care conversations.

“The project really highlighted the need to include people with lived experience in knowledge translation work to ensure that deliverables are relevant and desired. We hope that women+ living with HIV, their support networks, clinicians and health providers, as well as HIV service organizations, order the booklet and help to spread education surrounding hormonal change.”

Leanne worked on the booklet as part of a team of various stakeholders, which included Dr. Elizabeth King, the BCC3 study team, and Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange (CATIE).

With the completion of the booklet, the team is now working on the roll-out of the booklet across the country.

“Our efforts have turned to the dissemination of this new resource with the help of our CATIE partnership. The booklet has been nationalized and is available in English and French.”

The booklet is free for any Individuals interested in accessing this resource, and can be ordered through the CATIE website.

*  FLEX is a series of courses that offer medical undergraduate students unique opportunities to pursue a variety of scholarly activities in Year 1, 2 and 4 of their studies. In FLEX, students develop and pursue activities that allow them to explore individual learning interests in greater depth (from the FLEX Course Overview webpage, UBC Faculty of Medicine).