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About Abuse

Abuse Among People Living with HIV/AIDS

Updated: 
May 25, 2018

I am living with HIV/AIDS. What ways could someone could use my HIV status to be abusive?

Abusers may use the unfair stigma around HIV/AIDS to isolate and control victims. Here are some ways an abuser might use a victim’s HIV-positive status to control or hurt his/her partner:

  • threatening to reveal a victim’s HIV+ status to family, friends, co-workers, landlords, etc., or in a custody case;
  • making a victim feel guilty about the HIV+ status of his/her children;
  • belittling a victim over his/her HIV+ status (e.g., telling the victim that no one will want him/her because of his/her HIV+ status);
  • using the victim’s HIV+ status as an excuse for violent behavior;
  • using a victim’s HIV+ status as an excuse to isolate him/her from others and to take control of the victim’s finances, making the victim more dependent on the abuser; and
  • withholding, hiding or throwing away medicine, cancelling medical appointments or denying the victim access to medical care.1
1This information has been adapted from information compiled by the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence’s “Domestic Violence and HIV/AIDS” page.