Violence Against Women in Selected Areas of the United States

Am J Public Health. 2015 Oct;105(10):2156-66. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302430. Epub 2015 Mar 19.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Crime Victims*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Offenses / statistics & numerical data
  • Spouse Abuse / statistics & numerical data
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Unsafe Sex / statistics & numerical data
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Women*