Effect of Social Support On Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) After the Dagnosis of Womens' HIV/AIDS Status
Studies on IPV have long documented the importance of social support. Although a few studies discuss women‘s ability to seek security and protection during episodes of violence tends to reduce and detract from the perpetrator‘s ability to freely engage in violence. We know little about the role of social support among the women diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and experiencing IPV. This research examined the effect of social support on IPV after the diagnosis of womens’ HIV/AIDS status.
METHODS: During the Fall of 2011, women living with HIV/AIDS and receiving services from an AIDS Outreach Center, located in the southwestern part of the United States were recruited to participate in a study. They were asked to complete surveys about their HIV/AIDS diagnosis, disclosure, the level of IPV experienced, and their level of social support. Sixty-four women completed the Revised Conflict Tactic Scale, the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support, and a HIV/AIDS Questionnaire, CAGE-AID.
The majority (51.6%) of the research participants were African-Americans with a mean age of 46. Many women in the study were separated/divorced (34.4%); 29.7 % were married and 12.5% were cohabiting. Almost all the women (93.2%) had disclosed their HIV status to their current intimate partner and majority (71.9%) of the women’s partners were HIV negative.
RESULTS: Social support had a significant negative effect on the severity of physical, violence (β = -.57, p<.01) and sexual violence (β = -.16, p<.01) experienced by women living with HIV/AIDS before the diagnosis of their HIV/AIDS status. Social support (β = -.206, p<.05) significantly influenced severity of emotional violence experienced by women after the diagnosis of HIV/AIDS status.
IMPLICATIONS: This study found that social support served as an important protective factor against IPV before the diagnosis of HIV/AIDS but did not serve as a protective factor against IPV following the diagnosis of HIV/AIDS status. Therefore, social workers and health-care providers may need to be especially vigilant in asking about support systems following an HIV/AIDS diagnosis and linking women to needed resources and support systems. Women may greatly benefit from being referred to support groups of women living with HIV/AIDS and experiencing IPV.
The findings from this study may be helpful in informing debates and analyses of current policy and practice approaches for prevention and intervention of IPV among women living with HIV infection.
Research studies are needed to design intervention programs and organize support groups working with women living with HIV/AIDS who have experienced IPV.