By Hannah Guzik
Women who are victims of domestic violence have an increased risk of contracting HIV and a more difficult time keeping up with treatments, according to women’s health advocates.
Citing statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a group of women’s health organizations are trying to raise awareness this month of the link between HIV and domestic violence.
One in three women experiences intimate partner violence in her lifetime, according to a release from the Kaiser Family Foundation. But half of all women with HIV have experienced domestic violence, according to the organization.
Women experiencing intimate partner violence have an increased risk of HIV infection through forced sex with an infected partner, limited or compromised power to negotiate safer sex practices and increased sexual risk-taking behavior, according to CDC statistics cited by the foundation.
Abuse from a partner, and the depression and trauma that can accompany it, can make it difficult to keep up with HIV medications and stay connected to care, advocates say. Sometimes when women share with a partner that they are HIV positive, it can increase abusive behavior.
“Our goal is for women to know that they are not alone and that there is help available,” said Cameka Crawford, Chief Communications Officer at the National Domestic Violence Hotline. “Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.