Experiencing intimate partner and sexual violence increases the risk for becoming infected with HIV. Upwards of 50% of abused women report having experienced forced sex – a well-established high risk factor for HIV infection. Once infected, people with HIV who are also suffering abuse may experience escalation of violence upon disclosure of their status – resulting in potentially lethal outcomes. Intimate partner violence (IPV) can also prevent survivors with HIV from accessing necessary treatment and care, and the stress caused by abuse can further compromise their immune systems and accelerate the progression of the disease.
From HIV prevention to testing, treatment, and long term care, health care providers have many opportunities to reduce the isolation of survivors and increase their options for safety and better health.