Food Insecurity and Intimate Partner Violence Among HIV-Positive Individuals in Rural Kenya

Am J Prev Med. 2021 Apr;60(4):563-568. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2020.06.025. Epub 2020 Oct 1.


Introduction: Intimate partner violence and food insecurity are both structural drivers of HIV acquisition, care, and treatment, but little is known about how the 2 conditions intersect in the lives of those already living with HIV.

Methods: This study examined cross-sectional baseline data (collected in January 2016-December 2017) from an ongoing trial in southwestern Kenya. Trained interviewers asked enrolled participants living with HIV aged 18-60 years about household food insecurity (using the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale), intimate partner violence (using an adapted WHO multicountry study instrument), and sociodemographics. Negative binomial regression was used to examine the association between food insecurity and partner violence victimization (among women) or perpetration (among men). Secondary data were analyzed in August 2019-March 2020.

Results: Of 720 participants, more than half of women reported experiencing intimate partner violence (57.6%) and most men reported perpetrating it (58.4%). Participants reporting any partner violence had higher Household Food Insecurity Access Scale scores (21.8) compared with those reporting no violence (21.3, p=0.02). Each categorical change in food insecurity (mild, moderate, severe) was associated with a 41% increased risk of an additional partner violence episode. In models controlling for relationship status, wealth, season of interview (lean versus not lean), and baseline physical health, each 1-point increase in food insecurity was associated with a 6% higher risk of violence victimization among women and 4% greater risk of men perpetrating partner violence.

Conclusions: This study highlights the interconnected nature of intimate partner violence and food insecurity among women and men living with HIV. This relationship suggests that enhancing food security may be a useful intervention strategy to prevent intimate partner violence and improve HIV-related health outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Food Insecurity
  • Food Supply
  • HIV Infections* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence*
  • Kenya / epidemiology
  • Male