Dr. Mona Loutfy
Ask the average person on the street what they think of HIV-positive people becoming parents. Some may assume it happens mainly in developing countries. Most would assume it poses inevitable dangers. All would be making assumptions based on old thinking fuelled by enduring stigma.
“Stigma persists even in the medical community and fertility clinics,” says Dr. Mona Loutfy. “People with well-managed HIV have been turned away and told they have no options, despite ample evidence that they can safely have babies.”
Loutfy has dedicated her career to changing how people think about HIV, so that people with well-managed HIV could work with fertility teams to plan safe and healthy pregnancies. She’s done this by partnering with community advocates, reaching out to fertility clinics, and educating policy-makers and medical staff.
People with well-managed HIV have been turned away and told they have no options, despite ample evidence that they can safely have babies.
Loutfy has also published the fi rst stand-alone and widely reviewed and approved preconception guidelines for people with HIV – the Canadian HIV Pregnancy Planning Guidelines – that consider same-sex couples and single individuals wishing to start families.
“We do rigorous science, and we do it in a way that’s deeply respectful of and relevant to affected communities, with consideration for their unique needs and cultural traditions,” says Loutfy.
Loutfy’s guidelines are just one part of her multidimensional research program, which leads research studies that engage diverse communities, to prevent new infections and improve healthcare services for people living with HIV.
THE POWER OF MANY
Loutfy is committed to advancing care for people living with HIV by engaging affected communities.
- Postdoctoral fellow Dr. Anita C. Benoit is a trainee of Loutfy’s whose research improves HIV services, so that they better target and support underserved Aboriginal women. Benoit has been awarded a CIHR postdoctoral fellowship and a planning grant to support this work.
- Loutfy partners with Women’s Health in Women’s Hands to carry out research important to African Caribbean Black women living with HIV in Ontario. In partnership with Ms. Wangari Tharao, Loutfy has completed a CIHR-funded community-based research initiative to advance studies on stigma-reducing interventions within this population.