Married Women in India Who Experience Physical, Sexual Abuse by Husbands More Likely To Contract HIV, Study Finds
Married women in India whose husbands physically and sexually abuse them are about four times more likely to contract HIV compared with married women in the country who do not experience abuse, according to a study published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Reuters UK reports. Researchers, led by Jay Silverman of the Harvard School of Public Health, examined data from India's National Family Health Survey between 2005 and 2006. The data included information about 28,139 married women.
More than one-third of the women in the study reported experiencing physical violence with or without sexual abuse by their husbands. Of these women, 28% experienced only physical violence, while 7.7% reported both physical and sexual abuse. The risk of HIV among the women who experienced both physical and sexual violence increased by a magnitude of 3.9 compared with women who did not experience abuse, according to the study.
The researchers said that they confirmed earlier studies indicating that men who have extramarital relationships, including unprotected sex with commercial sex workers, are the primary source of HIV among women in India. More than 95% of HIV-positive Indian women report being monogamous, the researchers said, adding that extramarital relationships on the part of their husbands help explain why many women who experience abuse are contracting the virus. "A woman who is abused by her husband is truly placed in a situation of 'double jeopardy' regarding HIV infection," Silverman said, adding that a husband's "sexual behavior outside of the marriage makes it more likely he is infected with the virus, and his abusive behavior inside the marriage leaves her with little over control sex or sexual protection" (Reuters UK, 8/12).
An abstract of the study is available online.