Violence Against Women in Selected Areas of the United States

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Objectives. We determined the prevalence of recent emotional, physical, and sexual violence against women and their associations with HIV-related risk factors in women living in the United States. Methods. We performed an assessment of women ages 18 to 44 years with a history of unprotected sex and 1 or more personal or partner HIV risk factors in the past 6 months from 2009 to 2010. We used multivariable logistic regression to examine the association of experiencing violence. Results. Among 2099 women, the prevalence of emotional abuse, physical violence, and sexual violence in the previous 6 months was 31%, 19%, and 7%, respectively. Nonmarried status, food insecurity, childhood abuse, depression symptomology, and posttraumatic stress disorder were significantly associated with multiple types of violence. All types of violence were associated with at least 3 different partner or personal HIV risk behaviors, including unprotected anal sex, previous sexually transmitted infection diagnosis, sex work, or partner substance abuse. Conclusions. Our data suggested that personal and partner HIV risk behaviors, mental illness, and specific forms of violence frequently co-occurred in the lives of impoverished women. We shed light on factors purported to contribute to a syndemic in this population. HIV prevention programs in similar populations should address these co-occurring issues in a comprehensive manner.