Women who are victims of domestic
violence are at increased risk for infection
with HIV and other sexually
transmitted diseases, new research finds.
different types of domestic violence
The study included women seen at an upstate New York public clinic that
treats people with sexually transmitted diseases. The women completed a
questionnaire that asked them about intimate relationships and risky
17% of the women reported domestic violence in the past three months. And
recent domestic violence was associated with a fear that asking a male partner
to use a condom during sex would lead to violence.
attitude to domestic violence changing
"Our findings suggest that women involved in violent relationships fear
that their partner might respond with violence if asked to use a condom, which
in turn leads to less condom use for these women," Theresa Senn, a senior
research scientist at the Centres for Behavioural and Preventive Medicine at
Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, said in a hospital news release.
"Protecting themselves from unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted
infections, including HIV, is not as easy as just telling their partner to wear
a condom," said Senn, the study's co-author. "The potential
consequences of asking their partner to wear a condom are more immediate and
potentially more severe than an unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted
Threat of domestic violence
The findings, published online recently in the journal Women & Health,
show that health care providers involved in preventing HIV, the virus that
causes Aids, and other sexually transmitted infections need to help women deal
with the threat of domestic violence, Senn said.
"For women in violent
relationships, counselling to use a condom and training in condom
assertiveness skills are unlikely to increase condom usage," Senn said.
These women might need additional counselling about healthy relationships, and
assistance developing a safety plan, she said.
Each year, 27% of new HIV infections in the United States are in women, and
heterosexual sex accounts for 83% of those infections, according to the news
release. A recent national study found that 12% of HIV infections among women
were linked with domestic violence.
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