There is a historic but persistent belief in haemophilia care that women do not suffer with the condition, they merely carry and transmit it. However, around 250 women worldwide are known to have factor levels within the severe to moderate haemophilia range (<1 IU/dL to 5 IU/dL), and the true figure may be greater than this. The experience of these women may be the same as or similar to those of men with similar factor levels, but there may be significant differences. What these differences are and what they mean to the women affected are not well understood as their voices are not heard. This case study highlights the issues and experiences of one woman living severe haemophilia.
A single semi-structured qualitative interview was undertaken to explore the experiences of a young woman who has factor VIII levels of <1 IU/dL. The interview was recorded, transcribed and thematically analysed.
Four interlinked themes were identified: recognition, self-advocacy, identity and access to treatment.
This case study indicates that, despite recent attempts to improve the diagnostic nomenclature, women and girls with haemophilia continue to find it difficult to access similar levels of care to men and boys. As such, they may fail to achieve parity in terms of safety, integrity and wellbeing, and have a reduced quality of life. If women and girls affected by haemophilia are to receive levels of treatment comparable to men, diagnostic criteria need to change further. Focusing on genotype, levels of factor expressed and phenotypical presentation rather than biological sex will acknowledge and validate their experiences, and improve treatment for all people with haemophilia in the future.