A quarter of HIV-positive Americans have experienced intimate partner violence

sad man leans against wall

HIV-positive Americans are at a high risk for intimate partner violence, with one in four (26.3 per cent) having experienced it at least once, new data has shown.

The findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, used data from the Medical Monitoring Project, “a surveillance system designed to learn more about the experiences and needs of people who are living with HIV”.

The study showed that not only are HIV-positive people in the US at higher risk of physical abuse at the hands of their intimate partners, but that “intimate partner violence is associated with adverse health consequences among people with diagnosed HIV”.

It also showed that 4.4 per cent had experienced intimate partner violence within the last 12 months.

Researchers from the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control found that people with HIV who had recently suffered intimate partner violence were “more likely to engage in behaviours associated with elevated HIV transmission risk”, like intravenous drug use or high-risk sex, and “have unmet needs for supportive services”.

They were also “less likely to be engaged in routine HIV care but were more likely to seek emergency care services and have poor HIV clinical outcomes”.

The lifetime prevalence of intimate partner violence among people with HIV varied depending on gender and sexual orientation. The highest risk group was HIV-positive bisexual women, of whom more than half had experienced physical abuse from a partner.

Those who had been homeless within the past 12 months were also at a higher risk (37.6 per cent) than those who had not (25.2 per cent).

Researchers said it was “important” that HIV-positive Americans are screened for intimate partner violence at initial HIV tests, as well as during routine appointments.

This, they said, “may help address issues of missed medical visits, poor [antiretroviral treatment] adherence, and difficulty attaining and maintaining viral suppression”.

They added: “When intimate partner violence is identified, supportive services should be offered.

“With these additional supportive services, the safety and health of people with HIV may be improved.”