Latin America: Report Examines Violence Against Women and HIV/AIDS Risk
Monday, December 13, 2010 10:00 AM

Seventy-eight percent of women with HIV/AIDS have experienced some form of violence, according to a report examining the link between violence against women and HIV/AIDS in four Latin American countries. The report was based on testimonies from women living with HIV/AIDS in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay.


According to the report, psychological abuse (such as humiliation, mocking, or insults) was the most common form of violence, followed by physical abuse (such as beating, burning, or choking). Women also reported experiencing sexual violence at the hands of husbands or boyfriends as well as experiencing abuse during their childhood. The report states that women who experience violence are more vulnerable to HIV infection because they lose their autonomy, their self-esteem, and the power to negotiate condom use. The women interviewed expressed surprise on learning they were HIV-positive since they didn’t consider themselves a high-risk group because they were in stable, heterosexual relationships. HIV-positive women also reported experiencing discrimination from medical professionals who refused to treat them.


The report found that many women viewed the abuse they suffered as normal. This is due to the naturalization of violence in women’s lives, which starts from childhood through witnessing their mothers suffer abuse, or being sexually abused by family members.


The report notes that the countries lack national government programs that integrate violence against women and HIV/AIDS and recommends creating programs that treat HIV from a violence against women perspective. The report acknowledges recent advances the countries have made, such as universalizing treatment for HIV/AIDS and creating domestic violence laws, but notes that the lack of official data from the countries makes it difficult to analyze the scope of the AIDS epidemic.   


Compiled from: Marcela Valente, Violence Against Women linked to HIV Risk, Inter Press Service, (24 November 2010).