Effects of men's lifetime adverse events experience on violence, HIV risk, and wellbeing: insights from three countries

AIDS. 2022 Jun 15;36(Suppl 1):S99-S108. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0000000000003224.


Objective: To assess men's experiences of adverse events in both child and adulthood and their effects on violence, HIV risk, and well being in three sub-Saharan countries.

Design: We conducted cross-sectional surveys from 2017 to 2018 with men (all 18+) recruited via the PLACE methodology at community hotspots and HIV service sites in Eswatini (n = 1091), South Africa (n = 932), and Malawi (n = 611).

Methods: Prevalence of men's adverse events in childhood (e.g. beaten at home often) and adulthood (e.g. robbed at gunpoint) was described. We examined associations between cumulative effects of these events on health outcomes, via log binomial regression.

Results: About 70% of men in each country experienced adverse events in childhood, while adult experience varied from 47 to 64%. There was a dose-response effect of cumulative exposure. Among men with 0, 1-2, and 3+ traumas, for example, 22, 35, and 52% reported depression/anxiety in Malawi, and 8, 17, and 27% perpetrated intimate partner violence (IPV) in South Africa. In multivariate analyses, experiencing at least one event in both childhood and adulthood (vs. neither) was significantly associated with various health outcomes (e.g. multiple sexual partnerships: adjusted risk ratio or aRR = 2.40 in Malawi; IPV perpetration: aRR = 3.59 in South Africa; depression/anxiety: aRR = 1.37 in Eswatini).

Conclusion: Men who experienced adverse events in childhood or adulthood faced increased HIV risk/negative health outcomes. More events were associated with worse outcomes. Interventions for men addressing trauma in both childhood and adulthood are essential for their (and their partners') health and well being.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • HIV Infections* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Intimate Partner Violence*
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Violence