Intervention can reduce HIV risk in female victims of domestic violence

Washington D.C, Jul 25 : According to a recent study, an intervention for women experiencing intimate partner violence can help reduce HIV transmission.

The team led by the University of Maryland's Mona Mittal conducted an integrated HIV risk reduction intervention for a racially diverse group of economically-disadvantaged women with histories of intimate partner violence (IPV).

This intervention resulted in a decrease in unprotected sex and an increase in safer sex communication among its participants.

It is one of the few interventions to address the association between gender-based violence and risk of HIV acquisition among women.

"Although research has established a strong link between 'intimate partner violence,' or IPV, and subsequent HIV infection, there are few empirically-supported interventions that address the unique needs of women who experience IPV and who are at increased risk for contracting HIV," wrote Mittal.

Abused women may be coerced to have unprotected sex or experience fear of violent consequences when negotiating condom use, Mittal explained.

They may also be involved in high-risk sexual behavior, having sex with multiple partners or high-risk individuals, such as injection drug users.

Studies also show that women who experience IPV suffer from mental health issues such as depression, PTSD, anxiety and low self-esteem.

Men who engage in abusive behavior are also more likely to engage in high-risk sexual behavior and use condoms infrequently, according to studies by Columbia University researcher, Nabila El-Bassel.

"What makes this intervention unique is that we recruited women who might currently be in abusive relationships or as recent as the last 3 months.

It is more challenging to work with women with recent experiences of IPV, compared to lifetime experiences of IPV," Mittal said.

The study is published in AIDS and Behavior..