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Violence and HIV Risk

hand_ginucplathottam_morguefileViolence against women is a worldwide mindset that’s found in every country.  Male-dominated traditions, religious writings justifying misogyny, and political apathy play significant parts in its continuation. Recent Pulitzer Prize winning series, Till Death Do Us Part painfully captures the intersections of these parts, and how women and children end up losing time after time.

Beyond the obvious risks of injury and death, intimate partner violence can significantly affect a woman’s sexual health. CATIE’s Sean R. Hosein recently wrote about an Alberta research study looking at the incidence of relationship violence for people living with HIV. Study authors said that violence in relationships increases the risk of HIV infection. A violent partner can also determine whether a woman can get healthcare and support whether she has HIV or not. For women who do, it can affect whether she may or may not be able to gain access to life-saving HIV treatment.

If a woman has HIV, this can also increase the risk of violence, and undoubtedly the feeling of being trapped. Isolation, controlling relationships with others, and emotionally undermining a woman’s self-worth are classic moves of an abuser.   A woman afraid of more violence and convinced by her abuser that no one else will ever love her sees few options for escape.

There are safe houses and support organizations that can help women in crisis, with legal matters and referrals. Unfortunately, there are rarely enough where they’re needed. It’s hard to end this piece on an upbeat note but to say there are many people fighting for change. As crummy as circumstances are for many women, change has been made and can continue to progress. We have to believe it; we have to do it.

 

Janet  |  @janet_madsen

 

Photo: ginucplathottam, Morguefile

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