Where are we now? The impact of Intimate Partner Violence on HIV/AIDS disease care

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a category of domestic abuse that refers specifically to abuse within an intimate relationship. It is a global health problem affecting millions of people every day. The relationship between HIV and IPV is complex not only because people affected by IPV more vulnerable to acquiring HIV, but the presence of IPV will impact individuals’ ability to access and maintain HIV care that may lead to poorer health outcomes. The presence of HIV infection may also increase the risk of subsequent IPV within a relationship.

The Southern Alberta Clinic in Calgary began researching IPV on individuals living with HIV in 2009 to determine the prevalence of IPV within their clinic population and how it impacts health outcomes. This involved implementing a universal screening survey that asked patients:

• if they were currently experiencing IPV,
• had experienced IPV in a past adult relationship,
• or had experienced abuse as a child.

Sociodemographic and clinical characteristics were compared between patients that reported IPV and those that did not. Comparisons of access and adherence to HIV care were also made between the two groups.

Over the past five years, almost 95% of the patients have been surveyed. Individuals currently experiencing IPV were immediately extracted from their situations; other patients who had previously dealt with IPV were referred to specialized caregivers with expertise in IPV. Last summer over 150 interviews were conducted to examine the acceptability of IPV screening in an HIV clinic setting. From these interviews a series of recommendations were made to help implement the screening survey in other HIV care centers. They hope to expand the program across the country to help improve the health of individuals living with HIV and IPV by encouraging other clinics to use the screening protocol on a routing basis.

Comments are closed.