Women trapped in physically abusive relationships are more vulnerable to HIV infection, says a study led by an Indian-Canadian.
The study, involving about 14,000 women, shows that "intimate partner violence", which is physical or sexual assault of a spouse or partner, has become a significant public health concern around the world.
While research on the problem has taken place in Africa and India, the new study is the first to look at the issue among a large number of women in the US.
Researchers led by Jitender Sareen, associate professor of psychiatry, University of Manitoba (Canada), used data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, which conducted interviews with women aged 20 and older from 2004 to 2005.
They analysed information from 13,928 women who reported being in a romantic relationship during the last 12 months.
Researchers asked the women whether they had experienced physical or sexual violence from their partner during the last year, and whether they had received a diagnosis of HIV during the same time.
The results showed that women who experience violence from their partners were more than three times as likely to have HIV infection as women who do not, said a Manitoba release.
Besides, almost 12 percent of HIV infection among women was due to intimate partner violence. "These numbers are solely due to forced sex on women from their infected partners. It is a substantial percentage," said Sareen.
"This is a very large sample of people and, on methodology side, it's a decent study, so people will need to pay attention to it," said Julia Heiman, director of The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University.
These findings were published in the latest issue of General Hospital Psychiatry.