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HIV, partner notification, domestic abuse


Current public health policy encourages partner notification to protect those at risk of HIV infection. Provider experiences with partner notification, domestic violence, and women with HIV compel a reassessment of this strategy. In a survey of 136 health care providers in Baltimore, substantial numbers reported knowledge of their HIV-infected patients’ experiences with domestic violence before and after partner notification. Providers believed that fear of physical abuse, emotional abuse, and abandonment are important reasons why many female patients resist partner notification. Provider opposition to partner notification was strong in cases where female patients faced a risk of domestic violence. The realization that HIV-infected women fear and experience domestic violence has broad implications for health care practice. The authors recommend changes in provider practices to insure that the risk of domestic violence is identified and addressed, and that partner notification strategies do not threaten the safety of HIV-infected women. They also highlight areas for further research on the connection among partner notification, domestic violence, and women with HIV.


Health Law and Policy