Report Examines the Relationship Between Violence Against Women and Higher Rates of Women Living with HIV/AIDS
Thursday, December 2, 2010 1:10 PM

The Duke Journal of Gender Law and Policy has published a report examining the relationship between gender violence and women’s vulnerability to HIV/AIDS. According to the report, women are disproportionately affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. They are 1.6 times more likely to contract the virus than men. The report states that violence against women is both a cause and consequence of women living with AIDS.  


The author, Shirley Kohsin Wang, analyzes four factors in the relationship between gender violence and women living with AIDS: biological factors, socio-cultural factors, economic factors, and behavioral factors. The report finds that violence against women causes the higher rates of infection in a number of ways. Victims of sexual violence experience injuries to the reproductive tract that can allow the virus to enter the body. Women and girls who experience sexual abuse are also more likely to engage in other risky sexual behavior, such as having multiple partners or using drugs and alcohol, which can increase their chance of HIV infection. Intimate partner violence increases women’s risk of HIV by limiting their ability to negotiate consistent condom use. Violence against women is also a consequence of AIDS infection. Women who experience violence may contract AIDS, and may then experience further violence due to stigmas associated with AIDS. Wang states that gender violence and the higher numbers of women living with AIDS are “co-existing epidemics” that have a bi-directional and mutually reinforcing relationship. The report also addresses the situation of women in times of armed conflict.


Recommendations from the report focus on changes across different sectors, such as health services, the law, and educational institutions, and on the organizational, national, and international level. Some recommendations include adopting a comprehensive approach that integrates violence against women and HIV prevention programs, changing gender attitudes, training law officials and medical professionals on violence against women, and giving women with HIV/AIDS a greater participation in developing intervention programs. Wang also recommends that organizational and national policies be brought in line with international guidelines on HIV/AIDS.


To access the full report, please click here.


Compiled from:  Shirley Kohsin Wang, Violence & HIV/AIDS: Violence Against Women and Girls as a Cause and Consequence of HIV/AIDS, Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy, (accessed 1 December 2010);