Women who fear intimate partner violence (IPV) report inconsistent condom use and difficulty in negotiating safer sex, according to research published in Women & Health.

Mona Mittal, Ph.D., of the University of Rochester in New York, and colleagues asked 478 women at a public STD clinic to complete a self-administered questionnaire assessing the association between IPV and condom use.

The researchers found that 17 percent of the women reported experiencing IPV in the past three months. Women who had recent IPV expressed fear of a violent response to requests for condom use, and this fear was associated with inconsistent use of condoms. Women who experienced violence also reported difficulty negotiating safer sex with the abusive partner, which appeared to hinder their ability to protect themselves against HIV infection.

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“Health care providers involved in HIV prevention and sexual risk reduction interventions need to address IPV and, more specifically, fear of IPV when negotiating safer sex as part of their services for providing more comprehensive care to the women they serve,” the authors write.