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Recognizing National HIV Testing Day 2016

June 27, 2016

Today is National HIV Testing Day. And while NNEDV stands with HIV organizations and promotes testing, we also recognize that for some individuals getting an HIV test can be impossible or dangerous. Women living with HIV face domestic violence at a rate higher than the general population, at more than 55 percent. [1] And women experiencing domestic violence have an increased risk for acquiring HIV because they may not be able to negotiate condom usage, may be forced to use drugs or have sex with other partners, or because their partner has sex with others. For some survivors, they may intentionally be infected as a way for their partner to maintain control, even if the survivor doesn’t know they are positive.

Infographic National HIV Testing Day 2016 logo

To medical practitioners, HIV testers, and advocates: proceed with caution with providing testing to survivors. While your intentions may be in the right place, they may not take into account the safety of survivors. This is not to discourage testing but instead encourage safety planning. Partner-notification laws may inadvertently reveal the identity of the survivor, even if the identifying information is removed. Additionally, health departments that receive Ryan White funding are required to make a “good faith” effort to notify the partner of the individual that has received a positive test result. [2]

For these reasons, we will continue to promote the important intersection of domestic violence and HIV/AIDS but also vocalize our recommendation of safety planning with each individual that gets tested, regardless currently experiencing domestic violence. Learn more at http://nnedv.org/positivelysafe.

[1] Machtinger et al. (2012). Recent Trauma is Associated with Antiretroviral Failure and HIV Transmission Risk Behavior Among HIV- Positive Women and Female-Identified Transgenders. Springer Science + Business Media.

[2] https://www.aids.gov/hiv-aids-basics/just-diagnosed-with-hiv-aids/your-legal-rights/legal-disclosure/