A new study led by Tiara Willie at the Yale School of Public Health has found that states that aggressively target intimate partner violence (IPV) in their health care systems have lower rates of HIV infection among women. The research is believed to be the first to examine associations between state IPV prevention programs and HIV diagnosis rates for women over time.
According to the researchers, women represent 20 percent of all new HIV diagnoses, and Black and Hispanic women are much more likely to be affected by HIV than White women. Additionally, the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) found that 35 percent of women report experiencing some form of IPV in their lifetime.
In order to analyze the connection between HIV and IPV, the researchers analyzed HIV diagnosis rates for 49 states and the District of Columbia from 2010 to 2015. The also reviewed IPV incident rates in the NISVS from 2010 to 2012. The results showed that HIV diagnosis rates for women were higher in states that had a limited number of health care policies addressing IPV.
The researchers believe that the correlation could be due to women who are in abusive relationships being forced to have sex with an infected partner, feeling unable to negotiate safe sex practices, or engaging in riskier sexual behavior.
“These results strengthen the argument that HIV is associated with intimate partner violence and the data shows this association is not isolated to a few specific areas, but a problem across the United States,” said Willie. “It is our hope that state policymakers will see that IPV policies are effective and will implement more policies that address HIV prevention for women in abusive relationships.”
Willie holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s degree in women’s studies from Southern Connecticut State University. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in chronic disease epidemiology from the Yale School of Public Health.