Dr. Lewis describes why domestic violence is prevalent amongst women who are diagnosed with HIV.
We commonly see domestic violence and HIV. This is a topic that is not widely researched nor widely discussed, but among our women who come to the Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS they tell us that this is a problem.
We find that their HVI infection is very much related to the imbalance of power and control in their relationships and that the women who are infected by their partners with HIV are oftentimes done where they are either threatened that they would be exposed, or where the HIV is used as a weapon to keep the women in the relationships.
And so, we are finding that we can’t address HIV with our population without empowering women to remove themselves from disempowering relationships, to understand the dynamics involved in domestic violence, to be able to remove themselves from those situations and put themselves into healthier relationships where the balance of power is equal.
Oftentimes having HIV makes that so much more complicated in terms of resources, in terms of social support networks, in terms of physical safety and so we find that it’s very challenging and really the only way that we found through it is not necessarily just through education, but it is by providing these women a support group of individuals who can support their journey through this process.
About Dr. Jennifer Lewis, Ph.D.:
Jennifer Lewis the Director of Prevention and Wellness at the Southwest Center for HIV/ AIDS. She oversees HIV prevention for women, men and youth, and wellness which includes medical nutrition, behavioral health and complementary and alternative medicine. She is also the owner of Mosaic Psychotherapy, LLC, a psychotherapy practice that provides consulting and counseling services to individuals and families.