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J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2009 Aug 15;51(5):593-600. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0b013e3181a255d6.

Intimate partner violence functions as both a risk marker and risk factor for women's HIV infection: findings from Indian husband-wife dyads.

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Department of Society, Human Development and Health, Harvard Injury Control Research Center, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



Female victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) consistently demonstrate elevated sexually transmitted infection/HIV prevalence. IPV is thought to function indirectly as a marker of abusive men's elevated sexually transmitted infection/HIV infection and/or directly via facilitating transmission to wives. The present examination utilizes a nationally representative sample of married Indian couples to test these mechanisms and determine whether (1) abusive husbands demonstrate higher HIV infection prevalence compared with nonabusive husbands and (2) the risk of wives' HIV infection based on husbands' HIV infection varies as a function of their exposure to IPV.


The Indian National Family Health Survey-3 was conducted across all Indian states in 2005-2006. Analyses were limited to 20,425 husband-wife dyads, which provided both IPV data and HIV test results.


Logistic regression models estimated the odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) to evaluate the following associations: (1) husbands' HIV acquisition outside the marital relationship based on their perpetration of IPV and (2) wives' HIV infection based on husbands' HIV infection, as a function of their IPV exposure.


One third (37.4%) of wives experienced IPV; 0.4% of husbands and 0.2% of wives were HIV infected. Compared with nonabusive husbands, abusive husbands demonstrated increased odds of HIV acquisition outside the marital relationship in adjusted models (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.91; 95% CI 1.11 to 3.27). Husbands' HIV infection was associated with increased HIV risk among wives; this risk was elevated 7-fold in abusive relationships in adjusted models (AOR = 7.22; 95% CI 1.05 to 49.88).


Findings provide the first empirical evidence that abused wives face increased HIV risk based both on the greater likelihood of HIV infection among abusive husbands and elevated HIV transmission within abusive relationships. Thus, IPV seems to function both as a risk marker and as a risk factor for HIV among women, indicating the need for interwoven efforts to prevent both men's sexual risk and IPV perpetration.

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