Violence against Women and Girls, and HIV report on a high-level consultation on the evidence and implication

December 5, 2016
Authors: Dr. Lori Heise
Organization: STRIVE research programme consortium funded by UKaid from the Department for International Development

There is growing evidence that violence in all of its forms – physical, sexual and verbal – potentiates susceptibility to HIV and disease progression among women and girls. Violence and trauma can lead to lower CD4 counts, higher viral loads and lower adherence to prevention and treatment.  This document provides the evidence and illustrates potential pathways for intimate partner violence and women’s risk of HIV infection which underline the importance of addressing structural issues of violence which often begins in childhood and with affects lasting to adulthood.

Violence is a manifestation of the structural social and economic inequalities between men and women, at the same time as it further exacerbates these inequalities.
The health and social effects of violence against women and girls are cumulative and long-term. Adolescents and young women are especially at risk, due to a combination of enhanced biological susceptibility to HIV acquisition and developmental vulnerabilities. Given the association between violence and HIV acquisition in young women, addressing violence against women and girls is critical to curbing the HIV epidemic overall.

This publication has some graphics illustrating the structural relationships between intimate partner violence and HIV which demonstrate the importance of preventing violence against children.  Applicable to both programming and policy, the publication gives recommendations for an effective response and for research/future directions.