FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 10, 2014 – Today, during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we congratulate the White House Office of National AIDS Policy on today’s release of Updates on Efforts to Address the Intersections of HIV/AIDS, Violence against Women and Girls, and Gender-related Health Disparities.
Two major announcements from the federal government accompany the report: a new collaboration between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to expand housing opportunities for women with HIV who have experienced violence and the release of a framework for trauma-informed approaches to service delivery and care by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
“Given the high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among women living with HIV and the devastating impact of trauma on engagement in care and well as health outcomes, we are especially pleased with the federal government’s commitment to scale up trauma-informed approaches to improve health outcomes for women living with HIV,” says PWN-USA Executive Director Naina Khanna.
“In addition, because many women are living in both poverty and at risk for violence, the announcement that HUD will award transitional housing assistance grants to organizations providing housing and support services for women living with HIV who are victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking is a major step forward in addressing these intersections and assuring safe disclosure without risk of losing housing.”
The report commits specifically in the next year to increased screening for HIV and intimate partner violence (IPV) at primary care clinics and for IPV screening in HIV clinics; scale up of trauma-informed care for women living with and at risk for HIV; and expanded outreach and prevention efforts geared toward young women of color in communities where HIV rates are high.
Evidence is growing that failure to address the ongoing effects of trauma could be responsible for the crater in the HIV care continuum for US women, between linkage to care (70%) and retention in care (41%), which illustrates failure to provide high-quality care. The Interagency Federal Working Group on the Intersection of HIV/AIDS, Violence Against Women and Girls, and Gender-Related Health Disparities was formed by President Obama to address this connection. In February, the working group launched a set of promising recommendations for breaking the cycle of trauma and HIV among women. Now the group has submitted a report of their progress to date in moving these recommendations to action.
Up to 3 in every 4 women with HIV has experienced gender-based violence, according to the largest ongoing study of women living with and at risk for HIV. Data released in 2012 show that women with HIV dealt with post-traumatic stress disorder at more than 5 times the national rate. Transgender and cisgender women who reported recent trauma in that study were 4 times more likely to have their HIV treatment stop working than those who did not.
These studies illustrate that failure to address trauma is selling most women with HIV short on their care, and the quality of their lives. Screening for IPV, and a trauma-informed approach, must become the norm in women’s HIV care to break the cycle of violence, trauma and HIV among women.
On October 23, voices across the US will join to demand an end to physical and structural violence against women with HIV. We encourage community members and allies to join in online, attend a local event, or plan your own, for the
Break the culture of violence against women with HIV and all women!
#SaveWomensLives #EndVAWHIV #pwnspeaks
Read more about the working group’s progress – download full report (PDF)
Participate in your local community or online on October 23, National Day of Action to End Violence Against Women with HIV