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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Drexel Study: Domestic Violence Twice as Likely to Start for Pregnant Women After HIV Diagnosis

The study, published in AIDS and Behavior, used data from an urban township in the KwaZuluNatal Province of South Africa, the province that experiences the highest HIV prevalence in the country. Numbers were collected from 1,015 women in steady (six months or more) relationships at the time of collection.

A diagnosis of HIV during pregnancy makes domestic violence twice as likely to start for some women after their baby has been born compared to women who are not diagnosed with HIV according to new research led by Dr. Ali Groves.

Groves and her team began the study with the hypothesis that women who were diagnosed with HIV during pregnancy and had already experienced violence in their relationship would be more likely to have that violence increase.

But the data showed that the women who didn’t previously have a history of violence in their relationship were twice as likely to experience violence after the HIV diagnosis during their pregnancy.

The women who had already experienced violence in their relationship saw no significant change following their HIV diagnosis in pregnancy — so while the levels of violence they experienced didn’t increase, it didn’t decrease, either.

“This suggests that something about the HIV positive diagnosis is bringing stress into the relationship for those without a history of intimate partner violence,” Dr. Groves said. “On the other hand, in those with a history of intimate partner violence, there was no difference in risk between HIV positive and HIV negative women. This suggests that the HIV positive diagnosis may not be new source of anger or increased relationship stress, as it may have already been suspected.”

“As we found, women with a history of intimate partner violence continue to experience it postpartum,” Dr. Groves said. “Intimate partner violence has significant negative consequences for both women and their children during the period before and after pregnancy, and these consequences are not limited to HIV positive women. As such, effective interventions to reduce women’s risk of violence are desperately needed.”

The full article, “HIV Positive Diagnosis During Pregnancy Increases Risk of IPV Postpartum Among Women with No History of IPV in Their Relationship,” can be viewed here.

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