1. Kimberly, M. Nelson
  2. Susan, E. Buskin
  3. Linda, J. Oakley
  4. Gary, M. Goldbaum

Article Content

You recently published an article titled "Screening Persons Newly Diagnosed With HIV/AIDS for Risk of Intimate Partner Violence: Early Progress in Changing Practice."1 While investigating the impact of disclosing the results of an experiment test distinguishing incident from older HIV infections, we also investigated partner violence and abuse that may have been related to individuals testing HIV positive. We compared pre- and post-HIV-test prevalence of selected adverse outcomes, as well as changes in HIV risk and HIV disclosures, among individuals newly testing HIV positive at local public health clinics in King County, Washington.


Eligible subjects were 18 years or older and diagnosed with HIV after January 1, 2001. Interviews conducted between June 15, 2004, and March 11, 2005, included questions about HIV risk behaviors, partner violence, depression, and suicidal ideation before and after subjects were diagnosed with HIV. Thirty subjects were interviewed, all male and 63 percent White. Subjects reported that both mental abuse and physical violence were more likely to be initiated by partners (23 percent and 37 percent) than the participants themselves (7 percent and 20 percent) and that such violence or abuse was more common before (33 percent) than after (10 percent) receiving a positive HIV diagnosis. Differences in depression and suicidal ideation did not show consistent or statistically significant changes before and after HIV testing.


Most participants reported reducing their HIV risk behaviors after testing positive. Fifty percent reported decreasing unprotected intercourse with HIV-positive partners, 56 percent reported decreasing unprotected intercourse with HIV-status-unknown partners, and 64 percent reported decreasing with HIV-negative partners. Among injection drug users (IDU), 67 percent reported decreasing sharing with HIV-positive partners, 67 percent reported decreasing sharing with HIV-status-unknown partners, and 57 percent reported decreasing sharing with HIV-negative partners. Most participants (70 percent) reported increasing the disclosure of their HIV status, and no participants decreased disclosure. A majority also indicated they were more likely to ask their partners about HIV status after their own HIV diagnoses.


Among King County men testing positive for HIV, we did not detect a negative psychological impact nor an increase in partner violence associated with receiving a positive HIV test results. We found benefit in reduced HIV risk behaviors. As few studies have addressed these issues, more research is needed to examine the psychological, domestic violence, and behavioral impacts of receiving a positive HIV test result.




1. Klein SJ, Tesoriero JM, Leung S-YJ, Heavner KK, Birkhead GS. Screening persons newly diagnosed with HIV/AIDS for risk of intimate partner violence: early progress in changing practice. J Public Health Manag Prac. 2008;14(5):420-428. [Context Link]