The risk of domestic violence and women with HIV infection: implications for partner notification, public policy, and the law

Am J Public Health. 1995 Nov;85(11):1569-76. doi: 10.2105/ajph.85.11.1569.


Partner notification has emerged as an important strategy in the fight against acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), and states have now adopted a plethora of laws that encourage or mandate notification, often without the patient's consent. As human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection continues to spread among women, the future development of AIDS control strategies and public health laws must be shaped by concern for the safety and autonomy of patients who face a risk of domestic violence. Three distinct recommendations flow from this premise. First, all HIV-infected women should be assessed for the risk of domestic violence and offered appropriate interventions. Second, where a risk of abuse is indicated, partners should never be notified without the patient's consent. State laws that presently permit involuntary notification should be repealed or amended. Third, laws that punish a patient's refusal to notify partners should also be modified or repealed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome*
  • Battered Women / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Contact Tracing / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Domestic Violence / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Female
  • Government Regulation
  • Health Policy*
  • Humans
  • Mandatory Programs
  • Risk Factors
  • United States
  • Voluntary Programs