Background: Low-income racial/ethnic minority women are disproportionately
represented in substance use and intimate partner violence (IPV) among those who are at risk for or
live with HIV– collectively called the SAVA syndemic. Little is known about how IPV exposure
and substance use impact HIV testing uptake among low-income racial/ethnic minority women.
Aim: The objective of the current study is to conduct systematic literature review of SAVA
syndemic on HIV testing among women.
Design/Methods: A systematic literature review was conducted between February and September
2016 using databases of PubMed, Ovid/Medline, PsychINFO, Embase, and CINHAL/Nursing.
Quantitative and qualitative peer-reviewed studies published in English that covered the topics of
HIV testing, women, IPV, and substance use were reviewed. Study contents were summarized and
reviewed to identify the gap in studying the impact of substance use and IPV on HIV testing in
Results: Among women at risk for substance use and IPV (N = 6,259), HIV testing was perceived
to be a priority especially if they were injecting drugs and engaging in risky sexual practice;
however, barriers were also identified including stigma, privacy issue, convenience, and fear of
receiving an HIV-positive result.
Conclusions: Findings were informative in meeting the needs of HIV testing and counseling for
women at risk for substance use and IPV while addressing the potential barriers to increase access
to the service.