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BC Women's Foundation is raising funds to support  research in the most important areas in women's health today.

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For the first time, there are as many HIV-positive women as there are men globally.

The Women's Health Research Institute (WHRI) at BC Women's brings a women-centred perspective to HIV research.

WHRI studies HIV with the knowledge that women and men face different realities. Women are infected in different ways than men. Women face unique barriers to accessing treatment, support, and testing.

Pregnancy is a major concern for HIV-positive women. Women often become pregnant at the same time they are infected with HIV. Many women dream of having babies and starting a family after they are aware of their HIV-positive status.

Many of these women face significant hardships brought on by poverty, isolation, stigma, and cultural and ethnic barriers.

Video: Hope + Dignity - meet the care-giving team at BC Women's Oak Tree Clinic.

BC Women’s is the leader in providing women with healthcare to suit their unique needs and experiences. As the provincial health centre for HIV-positive women and their families, we are making breakthroughs in HIV research and care.

WHRI are global leaders in research on HIV in women and children. Their findings have been instrumental to understanding the impact of antiretroviral drugs on women and children with HIV.

BC Women's researchers developed a nationally-used drug regimen that has meant not one HIV-positive baby has been born to an HIV-positive mother in BC.

Through research at BC Women’s, and partnering with researchers in Africa, WHRI’s HIV research is making a global impact.

You can help the WHRI continue their pioneering research into HIV and women with a donation today.

End Cervical Cancer

The groundbreaking ASPIRE research project could end cervical cancer worldwide – serving women everywhere from rural BC to neighbourhoods as far away as Kiseyni, Uganda.

Cervical cancer kills more than a quarter of a million women worldwide every year. Fully 85 per cent of those deaths are happening in the developing world, and this despite the fact that cervical cancer is highly treatable when caught early. What’s been missing for these women is easy access to screening.

Now, thanks to a groundbreaking global initiative called ASPIRE (Advances in Screening and Prevention in Reproductive Cancers), the odds are turning in women’s favour. The project is a collaborative effort between the Women’s Health Research Institute, the BC Centre for Disease Control, BC Cancer, and BC Women’s Hospital. ASPIRE is putting self-screening kits in the hands of women in developing countries and has the potential to end cervical cancer worldwide.

Watch "When a Mother Lives" to find out how theASPIRE Project is empowering Ugandan women to prevent cervical cancer andsaving lives. 

Taking back control

The lack of access to healthcare in developing countries comes into sharp focus with regard to women’s gynecological health.

“Women in the developing world typically don’t have access to Pap screening, and if there is an opportunity for an exam they often need to walk for miles to see an overburdened care provider, who must have the expertise to do a pelvic exam,” says Dr. Deborah Money, VP Research at BCWomen’s Hospital and a member of ASPIRE.

“Then you need a sophisticated lab, and the woman must return if the cells are abnormal,” says Money, who adds that care providers often also face cultural resistance to intimate medical procedures.
The ASPIRE team, led by Dr. Gina Ogilvie, found the answer to providing easy access to screening in an innovative self-test that’s simple, inexpensive and can be done by women themselves. “It’s a kit that lets the woman have control,” adds Money.

In 2010, ASPIRE launched a self-screening project for 300 Ugandan women in the village of Kisenyi. Dr. Sheona Mitchell, a resident from our Obstetrics and Gynecology program here in Vancouver, worked with an in-country team that distributed the testing kits and talked to the women about sexual health, returning later for sample collection and testing. The pilot project overcame barriers and was a remarkable success.

Money says ASPIRE has the potential to save tens of thousands of lives in developing countries and even in hard-to-access regions in Canada: “This could be the tip of the iceberg. We can provide sexual health education about STDs, including HIV. Cervical cancer is just one piece of it.”


Pelvic Pain

Not enough is known about how diagnose and treat endometriosis and the other causes of chronic pelvic pain.

As a consequence, women are waiting an average of 5-10 years to get diagnosed. Years visiting new doctors, getting referrals to different specialist, going for tests, and possibly repeated surgeries. Years of waiting for answers with no effective treatment and little relief from pain.

BC Women's is leading research and training current and future care providers to change this dire situation. The Centre is in the forefront of clinical and laboratory research and discovering new knowledge about chronic pelvic pain and endometriosis. 

Biobanking: Saving tissue to find answers

The Centre is not only dedicated to helping women today, we are transforming how we will care for women in the future.

Most surgeries involve burning off the endometriosis - effectively destroying valuable tissue samples that could be studied. BC Women's surgeons, however, meticulously cut away the endometriosis. This practice more completely treats the endometriosis and optimizes symptom relief. It also leaves intact tissue samples that, with the patient's permission, can be stored in a biobank and used in research to improve care for women suffering from these conditions.  

We are one of the few facilities in the world where this is the standard practice. This is part of BC Women's vision as a leader in women's health.

Opportunity: An International Centre of Excellence

Despite the vast numbers of women afflicted, our understanding of the causes and the best way to treat chronic pelvic pain and endometriosis is severely limited. Women deserve more. They deserve relief and hope. This is the spirit that inspired BC Women's to found the Centre for Pelvic Pain + Endometriosis.

BC Women's has a unique opportunity for the Centre for to continue growing as an international pacesetter in innovative research, training and education in chronic pelvic pain and endometriosis.

BC Women's vision is to become an International Centre of Excellence in Chronic Pelvic Pain + Endometriosis. We have the patient base, the expertise, and the dedication to develop new knowledge and make discoveries that will change practice, not only in Canada, worldwide.

We need your help to make the International Centre of Excellence a reality.

Please make a donation today to support pioneering, world-class research in chronic pelvic pain and endometriosis.


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