Abused women more likely to contract HIV – study

2010-06-16 12:46

Women who are in abusive or unequal relationships are at risk of

becoming infected with HIV, the Medical Research Council (MRC) has found.

Professor Rachel Jewkes and a colleague at the MRC studied 1 099

young African women who were HIV negative at the start of the study, and who had

at least one subsequent HIV test over two years of follow-up.

Women were given face-to-face interviews to assess exposure to

violence and gender equality in their relationships.

Women in relationships with low equality at the start of the study

had a much higher incidence of HIV, compared with women with medium or high

relationship power.

Additionally, women who reported more than one episode of abuse at

the start of the study were more likely to acquire HIV than those who

experienced one or no episodes of abuse.

The MRC said: “The researchers calculated that if gender

inequalities were improved so that no women were in relationships with low

power, 13.9% of new HIV infections could be prevented.”

Also, they found 11.9% of new HIV infections could be avoided if

women were not subjected to more than one episode of physical or sexual abuse by

their partner.

They said organisations driving HIV-prevention agendas for women,

particularly UNAIDS and the World Health Organisation, “need to ensure that

policies, programmes and interventions to build gender equity and prevent

partner violence are developed and widely implemented”.

Currently, the focus is on testing, promoting condom use and

antiretrovirals.

They said donors and researchers must invest in efforts and

resources in developing and testing new interventions.

The report was published in the medical journal The Lancet online.
 


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