HIV/AIDS conferences provide an opportunity to review current research from around the world. Conferences are a good gauge of the amount of research conducted on HIV/AIDS and women because papers are disseminated widely and publicly, and can represent published or unpublished material. The objective of this study was to conduct content analysis and data coding to quantify trends in women-specific research in HIV/AIDS abstracts at the International AIDS Conferences (AIDS), the Canadian Association for HIV Research (CAHR) Conferences, and the Conferences on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) over a 7-year time period.
Abstracts titles and text containing female keywords were retrieved from the AIDS, CAHR, and CROI conferences between 2003 and 2009 and coded according to research category using content analysis.
Over 34,000 abstracts were searched. A total of 5,221 abstracts related to women (13.7%) were found over 7 years. Women-specific abstracts represented 16.2% (n = 4,245/26,175) at AIDS, 13.7% (n = 257/1,876) at CAHR, and 11.1% (n = 719/6,370) at CROI. The AIDS and CAHR conferences demonstrated a slightly increasing trend in women-specific abstracts over 7 years. In categorical coding, the most prevalent research category was reproductive health, and the most infrequent was policy and program evaluation.
The AIDS conferences showed an increase in women-specific abstracts over time, probably owing to a gender policy implemented in 2008 and a women's research award. The CAHR conference instituted a gender policy in 2011, and the CROI conference should follow suit. Conference abstracts should include breakdown and analysis by gender.