Married women in India who experience physical and sexual violence from their husbands have an increased risk of HIV infection, according to a recently published study.
Husband’s risk behaviour was described as a major source of women's infection. Intimate partner violence (IPV) has been described as being associated with heterosexual transmission of HIV to women in India and elsewhere.
One-third of married Indian women (35.49%) reported experiencing physical IPV with or without sexual violence from their husbands; 7.68% reported both physical and sexual IPV, and 27.80% reported experiencing physical IPV in the absence of sexual violence. Approximately 1 in 450 women (0.22%) tested positive for HIV. In adjusted models, married Indian women experiencing both physical and sexual violence from husbands demonstrated elevated HIV infection prevalence as against those who did not experience IPV.
The study conducted by Jay G Silverman of the Harvard School of Public Health Boston and his team based its findings on a nationally representative sample of married Indian women tested for HIV.
The study concluded that over 95% HIV positive married Indian women reported being monogamous. This confirms earlier studies which suggest that the most likely source of HIV infection among Indian women is the husband’s extramarital risk behaviour,unprotected sex and sex with commercial workers. The researchers analysed data on 28,139 married women who provided physical violence data and HIV test results.
They found that physical violence combined with sexual violence from husbands among Indian married women was associated with an increased prevalence of HIV infection. Prevention of IPV may augment efforts to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Women who are victims of partner violence were at a high risk of HIV infection on two counts: a higher prevalence of extra marital sexual behaviour among abusive men and an increased risk of HIV transmission to wives based on the abusive sexual practices within marriage.