The Intersection of Violence and HIV

In our efforts to end HIV as an epidemic, we must consider the impact that exposure to violence and abuse can have on a person’s health and well-being. As people across the US and the world have been isolating and practicing social distancing, numerous organizations and individuals have drawn attention to the danger this isolation poses to people who may be isolated with violent partners. 

The intersection of intimate partner violence and HIV in women, men, and transgender individuals can occur through:

  • Forced sex,
  • Limited or compromised negotiations of safer sex practices, and
  • Increased sexual risk-taking behaviors.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lesbian, gay and bisexual people experience sexual violence at similar or higher rates than heterosexuals. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects (NCAVP) estimates that nearly one in ten LGBTQ survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV) has experienced sexual assault from those partners.

Studies suggest that around half of transgender people and bisexual women will experience sexual violence at some point in their lifetimes. According to a 2015 survey of more than 27,000 transgender individuals, more than half of the respondents had experienced some form of intimate partner violence, including coercive control and physical harm.

Research indicates that approximately 55% of women and 20% of men living with HIV experience intimate partner violence. IPV not only increases the risk of HIV acquisition, but it often keeps people from engaging in or remaining in HIV care.

Collaboration with organizations that address intimate partner violence is essential to our efforts. Below is a post that was originally published by the Safe Alliance on on February 20, 2019. The SAFE Alliance exists to stop abuse for everyone by serving the survivors of child abuse, sexual assault and exploitation, and domestic violence. It is re-posted with permission.

Violence and abuse intersect in a million ways

Written by SAFE

How long did it take for people to talk about R. Kelly’s abuse of numerous Black women as more than a punchline? When Monica Loera, a trans woman of color, was murdered three years ago in Austin, why did police fail to identify her by the correct gender? How is it possible that having a disability makes you 7 times more likely to be sexually assaulted?

Across the board, violence and abuse disproportionately impact marginalized groups. Part of our work involves changing the established systems that harm these communities and so often keep people from seeking help.

If you’re familiar with SAFE’s story, you’re no stranger to the idea of intersections. We work to stop child abuse, domestic violence, and sexual violence. These issues are all connected – we see it when a little boy grows up to beat his girlfriend after years of abuse at the hands of his parents, or when someone who was molested their entire childhood is sexually assaulted as an adult. In every example of abuse, an abuser is exerting their power over their victim as a means of control.

The power and control dynamics that lead to victimization are amplified depending on the victim’s gender, race, ability, sex, status, and many other factors. So people of color, people with disabilities, members of LGBTQIA+ communities, and members of many other groups all face a greater risk of violence. And the various ways these groups intersect change how they experience that violence and what resources will help them escape.

For example, a queer Black man who relies on a physically abusive partner to help with their disabilities faces a different set of hurdles than a heterosexual Asian-American woman who is experiencing homelessness and selling sex to survive. And when a straight white man with no disabilities is attacked by his girlfriend, what he experienced is every bit as valid – it’s just a different experience.

Violence doesn’t discriminate. It can affect anyone. So when we say our mission is to stop abuse for everyone, we mean everyone.

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