Intimate partner violence and HIV in ten sub-Saharan African countries: what do the Demographic and Health Surveys tell us?

Dick Durevall, Annika Lindskog The Lancet, 2015; Intimate partner violence and HIV in ten sub-Saharan African countries: what do the Demographic and Health Surveys tell us? Durevall, D; Lindskog, A. The Lancet Global Health, Vol. 3, Issue 1, 34-43 Intimate partner violence and HIV in ten sub-Saharan African countries: what do the Demographic and Health Surveys tell us?

Many studies have identified a significant positive relation between intimate partner violence (IPV) and HIV in women, but adjusted analyses have produced inconsistent results. This paper examines cross-sectional data of twelve Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) from ten countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The data are nationally representative for women aged 15–49 years.

The study estimated odds ratios using logistic regression with and without controls for demographic and socioeconomic factors and survey–region fixed effects. Exposure was measured using physical, sexual, emotional violence and male controlling behaviour, and combinations of these. 

Findings show:

  • consistent and strong associations between HIV infection in women and physical violence, emotional violence and male controlling behaviour
  • male controlling behaviour and physical and emotional violence generally increase the probability of HIV infection, whereas sexual violence is significant only in the sample of women in their first union
  • the associations were dependent on the presence of controlling behaviour and a high regional HIV prevalence rate
  • when women were exposed to only physical, sexual, or emotional violence, and no controlling behaviour, or when HIV prevalence rates are lower than 5%, the adjusted odds ratios were, in general, close to 1 and insignificant
  • male controlling behaviour in its own right, or as an indicator of ongoing or severe violence, puts women at risk of HIV infection

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