Victims and Perpetrators of Intimate Partner Violence Among Sexually Active Youth in a Community With a High HIV Prevalence in Western Kenya

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Barbara Burmen
George Olilo
Ester M Makanga


Background: Physical intimate partner violence (IPV) is an important risk factor for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. We set out to determine the prevalence and correlates of IPV among youth aged 15 to 24 years – in a community with a high HIV prevalence – with a view to recommending strategies to address IPV.

Methods: We analysed data from an HIV seroprevalence survey, which included participants aged 13 years and above and was conducted between November 2012 and December 2014 in Gem Subcounty, Siaya County, Western Kenya. Participants between 15 and 24 years old (youth) were described as “perpetrators of IPV” if they had done anything to physically hurt their sexual partners in the previous year and as “victims of IPV” if they had been physically hurt by a sexual partner in the same timeframe. Logistic regression was used to determine factors associated with being either a victim or perpetrator of IPV.

Results: Of 1,957 participants included in the analysis, 142 (7%) were victims of IPV, and 77 (4%) were perpetrators of IPV. Victims were likely to be women (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 7.9; 95% CI, 3.6 to 17.5), in a relationship or married (AOR 3.1; 95% CI, 1.8 to 5.4), and to have had multiple lifetime sexual partners. Victims of IPV were also more likely than not to have been subjected to sexual violence in the past (AOR 1.9; 95% CI, 1.0 to 3.4) or recently (AOR 3.9; 95% CI, 2.2 to 6.8). Perpetrators were likely to be men (AOR 2.1; 95% CI, 1.2 to 3.7), with 5 or more lifetime sexual partners (AOR 2.8; 95% CI, 1.3 to 6.3), and to have committed sexual violence recently (AOR 2.9; 95% CI, 1.1 to 7.7).

Conclusion: There was a high prevalence of IPV among sexually active youth in this rural community. Study participants were recurrent victims or perpetrators and reported behaviours that put them at risk of HIV acquisition. Health programmes should screen for IPV victims and perpetrators using identified characteristics. Existing policies regarding gender-based violence should be enforced, and future research should focus on the impact of IPV prevention programmes.

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