Experience of Sexual Violence Among Women in HIV Discordant Unions After Voluntary HIV Counselling and Testing: a Qualitative Critical Incident Study in Uganda

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HIV/AIDS, women's health, sexual violence, discordant status, gender-based violence

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HIV-serodiscordant relationships are those in which one partner is infected with HIV while the other is not. We investigated experiences of sexual violence among women in HIV discordant unions attending HIV post-test club services in Uganda. A volunteer sample of 26 women from three AIDS Information Centres in Uganda who reported having experienced sexual violence in a larger epidemiological study were interviewed, using the qualitative critical incident technique. Data were analysed using TEXTPACK, a software application for computer-assisted content analysis. Incidents of sexual violence narrated by the women included use of physical force and verbal threats. Overall, four themes that characterise the women's experience of sexual violence emerged from the analysis: knowledge of HIV test results, prevalence of sexual violence, vulnerability and proprietary views and reactions to sexual violence. Alcohol abuse by the male partners was an important factor in the experience of sexual violence among the women. Their experiences evoked different reactions and feelings, including concern over the need to have children, fear of infection, desire to separate from their spouses/partners, helplessness, anger and suicidal tendencies. HIV counselling and testing centres should be supported with the capacity to address issues related to sexual violence for couples who are HIV discordant.

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AIDS Care, v. 21, issue 11, p. 1363-1370