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Domestic violence may increase HIV risk

Domestic violence may increase HIV risk

Women whose partners are violent and domineering have a 50% increased risk of being infected with HIV, scientists said on Friday. In the first study to assess the impact of gender-based violence as a risk factor for HIV in South Africa, researchers found that women in abusive relationships were more likely to be infected with the deadly virus. "Women with violent or controlling male partners are at an increased risk of HIV," Rachel Jewkes, of the Medical Research Council in Pretoria, said in a report in The Lancet, a medical journal. Half of the 40 million HIV-positive people worldwide are women. The researchers found that women who had been physically abused or whose partner had excessive control in the relationship had a 50% higher rate of HIV infection than other women. Fifty-five percent of the women questioned in the study reported being physically or sexually assaulted by a male partner. More than 30% had been assaulted within the last 12 months, and one in five had been assaulted more than once within the last year. "Just that prevalence figure is something people need to think about in terms of HIV counseling and testing services," said Kristin Dunkle of the University of Michigan, a coauthor of the study. (Reuters)

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