Gender Inequality and the Risk of HIV among Married Couples in North India


Author(s): Bloom SS, Agrawal A, Singh KK, Suchindran CM

Year: 2014

AIDS Care. 21 Jul 2014.  DOI: 10.1080/09540121.2014.940268.

This study investigated the distribution and determinants of HIV risks among married couples in North India. Gender inequality emerged as a potential driver of HIV risks in this region. Data collection took place in 2003 in a probability survey of 3385 couples living in India's most populous state – Uttar Pradesh – and Uttaranchal.

Couples' analyses utilizing generalized estimating equations showed that compared with husbands, wives were less knowledgeable about HIV (OR = 0.31, 95% CI = 0.27–0.36), more likely to consider themselves at risk for infection (OR = 6.86, 95% CI = 4.65–10.13), and less likely to feel that a wife had the right to refuse sex with her husband (OR = 0.50, 95% CI = 0.44–0.58). The proportion of husbands reporting non-marital sex in the past year was 7.1% and transactional sex in the past year, 2.2%. Among their wives, 73.4% were unaware of their husbands' non-marital sexual behaviors and only 28.9% of husbands reported condom use during their last non-marital sexual encounter.

Logistic regression analyses showed that husbands' alcohol use, husbands' mobility, and urban residence were positively associated with husbands' non-marital sexual behaviors adjusting for other covariates. The data demonstrate that HIV prevention programs among couples in North India should consider both sexual risks and gender inequalities which potentially fuel HIV spread in this region.

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