Objective: To investigate the associations between intimate partner violence, rape and HIV among South African men.
Design: Cross-sectional study involving a randomly-selected sample of men.
Methods: We tested hypotheses that perpetration of physical intimate partner violence and rape were associated with prevalent HIV infections in a cross-sectional household study of 1229 South African men aged 18-49. Violence perpetration was elicited in response to a questionnaire administered using an Audio-enhanced Personal Digital Assistant and blood samples were tested for HIV. A multivariable logistic regression model was built to identify factors associated with HIV.
Results: 18.3% of men had HIV. 29.6% (358/1211) of men disclosed rape perpetration, 5.2% (63/1208) rape in the past year and 30.7% (362/1180) of had been physically violent towards an intimate partner more than once. Overall rape perpetration was not associated with HIV. The model of factors associated with having HIV showed men under 25 years who had been physically violent towards partners were more likely to have HIV than men under 25 who had not (aOR 2.08 95% CI 1.07-4.06, p = 0.03). We failed to detect any association in older men.
Conclusions: Perpetration of physical IPV is associated with HIV sero-prevalence in young men, after adjusting for other risk factors. This contributes to our understanding of why women who experience violence have a higher HIV prevalence. Rape perpetration was not associated, but the HIV prevalence among men who had raped was very high. HIV prevention in young men must seek to change ideals of masculinity in which male partner violence is rooted.