Exploring risk of experiencing intimate partner violence after HIV infection: a qualitative study among women with HIV attending postnatal services in Swaziland

BMJ Open. 2015 May 14;5(5):e006907. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-006907.


Objective: To explore risks of experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) after HIV infection among women with HIV in a postnatal care setting in Swaziland.

Design: A qualitative semistructured in-depth interview study, using thematic analysis with deductive and inductive coding, of IPV experiences after HIV infection extracted from service-integration interview transcripts.

Setting: Swaziland.

Participants: 19 women with HIV, aged 18-44, were purposively sampled for an in-depth interview about their experiences of services, HIV and IPV from a quantitative postnatal cohort participating in an evaluation of HIV and reproductive health services integration in Swaziland.

Results: Results indicated that women were at risk of experiencing IPV after HIV infection, with 9 of 19 disclosing experiences of physical violence and/or coercive control post-HIV. IPV was initiated through two key pathways: (1) acute interpersonal triggers (eg, status disclosure, mother-to-child transmission of HIV) and (2) chronic normative tensions (eg, fertility intentions, initiating contraceptives).

Conclusions: The results highlight a need to mitigate the risk of IPV for women with HIV in shorter and longer terms in Swaziland. While broader changes are needed to resolve gender disparities, practical steps can be institutionalised within health facilities to reduce, or avoid increasing, IPV pathways for women with HIV. These might include mutual disclosure between partners, greater engagement of Swazi males with HIV services, and promoting positive masculinities that support and protect women.

Trial registration number: NCT01694862.

Keywords: violence against women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Eswatini / epidemiology
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • HIV Infections / psychology
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Intimate Partner Violence / prevention & control
  • Intimate Partner Violence / psychology
  • Intimate Partner Violence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Postnatal Care / organization & administration*
  • Prevalence
  • Qualitative Research
  • Risk Factors

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01694862