Intersection between violence against women and HIV/AIDS
M.B. Bianco1, A. Mariño2
1Fundacion para Estudio e Investigacion de la Mujer -FEIM- and International AIDS Women Caucus -IAWC-, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2Fundacion para Estudio e Investigacion de la Mujer -FEIM, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Background: Although the links between violence against women -VAW- and HIV/AIDS are recognized, still no data about these exists in the Southern Cone countries of Latin America. VAW is not part of the responses to HIV and its magnitude remains invisible. Since 2008 a study was developed in four countries to describe and analyze the association between VAW and HIV/AIDS in order to propose interventions to address both pandemics.
Methods: A multi-centered, exploratory and descriptive study with qualitative and quantitative information was developed in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay. The survey was administered to 398 women living with HIV/AIDS -WLWHA- over the age of 18 attending public hospitals in major cities in each country. Sociodemographic characteristics and sexual and reproductive health history, including HIV and VAW, were collected through individual interviews. Forty women were interviewed in depth for qualitative information.
Results: 313 women (78.4%) were victims of VAW and 70% suffered VAW before their HIV diagnosis. This is high among those reporting sexual violence. In almost all cases the aggressor was a relative and often times an intimate partner. Women victims of VAW are more vulnerable to HIV. Women who, during their childhood, lived in households where their mothers suffered partner or spousal violence, have a higher likelihood of suffering violence themselves.
Conclusions: Addressing VAW could decrease HIV incidence in women and girls and the experience of all WLWHA with VAW must be researched and taken into account as part of their prevention, treatment, care and support. To achieve this it is necessary to train health, social and justice personnel involved in serving women victims of violence, and that governments adopt/strengthen their commitment to address both of these problems that women confront.
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