The first study to evaluate the influence of gender-based violence as a risk factor for HIV/AIDS in South Africa demonstrated that women in abusive relationships are more apt to be infected with the virus. The researchers interviewed 1336 pregnant South African women at 4 clinics in Soweto about their partner, their sexual behavior, and violence in their relationships. Also, the women were tested for HIV.
The researchers determined that 55% of the women in the study reported having been physically or sexually assaulted by a male partner. More than 30% had been assaulted within the past 12 months, and 1 in 5 had been assaulted more than 1 time in the last year. The researchers learned that women who had been physically abused or whose partner showed excessive control in the relationship had a 50% higher incidence of HIV infection, compared with other women. (The findings were reported in The Lancet, May 1, 2004.)