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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The relationship between sexual violence and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection among women using voluntary counseling and testing services in South Wollo Zone, Ethiopia

Fatuma Hassen1* and Ngussie Deyassa2

Author Affiliations

1 School of Medical Laboratory Science, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

2 School of Public Health, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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BMC Research Notes 2013, 6:271  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-6-271

Published: 15 July 2013

Abstract

Background

Gender based violence affects the health and wellbeing of women across the world on an epidemic scale. While women remain more vulnerable to both sexual violence and risk of HIV infection, they are less able to access health and other welfare services than men. These vulnerabilities are further compounded by social factors, including the low status of women in many communities and their lack of decision-making power, both within the household and in wider society. The objective of this study was to assess the relationship between sexual violence and HIV infection among clients of voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) services in South Wollo Zone, Ethiopia.

Methodology

A facility based cross sectional study was conducted using quantitative methods on a sample of 647 people living in seven selected districts of South Wollo Zone, Amhara Regional State.

Results

The study revealed that sexual violence is significantly associated with the risk of HIV infection. The prevalence of lifetime sexual violence, lifetime partner violence, and last 12 months partner violence were 34.6%, 32.3% and 10.5% respectively. Both partner violence and lifetime sexual violence by another perpetrator were associated with HIV. The overall prevalence of HIV among VCT users was 21.5%. Both before (crude analysis) and after the results were adjusted for selected variables, women who experienced sexual violence in the last 12 months by their intimate partner or by another perpetrator is significantly associated with their HIV status. The chances of having HIV was 1.97 times higher among women victims who have a history of lifetime partner violence when compared with women who are not victims; crude odds ratio (COR) = 1.97, 95% Confidence Interval (CI), (1.34 - 2.90).

Conclusion

The study revealed that sexual violence is significantly associated with the risk of HIV infection. Empowerment of women can be used as an important tool to reduce both sexual violence and HIV. More importantly policy issues must be set by all actors to take action on the mediating variables that interacted with violence to aggravate the transmission of HIV.