Objectives: To examine associations between the perpetration of intimate partner violence and HIV risk behaviour among young men in rural South Africa.
Design: An analysis of baseline data from men enrolling in a randomized controlled trial of the behavioural intervention, Stepping Stones.
Methods: Structured interviews with 1275 sexually experienced men aged 15-26 years from 70 villages in the rural Eastern Cape. Participants were asked about the type, frequency, and timing of violence against female partners, as well as a range of questions about HIV risk behaviours.
Results: A total of 31.8% of men reported the perpetration of physical or sexual violence against female main partners. Perpetration was correlated with higher numbers of past year and lifetime sexual partners, more recent intercourse, and a greater likelihood of reporting casual sex partners, problematic substance use, sexual assault of non-partners, and transactional sex. Men who reported both physical and sexual violence against a partner, perpetration both before and within the past 12 months, or more than one episode of perpetration reported significantly higher levels of HIV risk behaviour than men who reported less severe or less frequent perpetration of violence.
Conclusion: Young men who perpetrate partner violence engage in significantly higher levels of HIV risk behaviour than non-perpetrators, and more severe violence is associated with higher levels of risky behaviour. HIV prevention interventions must explicitly address the links between the perpetration of intimate partner violence and HIV risk behaviour among men, as well as the underlying gender and power dynamics that contribute to both.