High levels of suicide ideation among women living with HIV, with a history of gender violence

Women with HIV: gender violence and suicidal ideation

Ceccon RF, Meneghel SN, Hirakata VN. Rev Saude Publica. 2014 Oct;48(5):758-65.

Objective: To analyze the relationship between gender violence and suicidal ideation in women with HIV.

Methods: A cross-sectional study with 161 users of specialized HIV/AIDS care services. The study investigated the presence of gender violence through the Brazilian version of the World Health Organization Violence against Women instrument, and suicidal ideation through the Suicidal Ideation Questionnaire. Statistical analyses were performed with the SPSS software, using the Chi-square test and Poisson multiple regression model.

Results: Eighty-two women with HIV reported suicidal ideation (50.0%), 78 (95.0%) of whom had suffered gender violence. Age at first sexual intercourse < 15 years old, high number of children, poverty, living with HIV for long, and presence of violence were statistically associated with suicidal ideation. Women who suffered gender violence showed 5.7 times more risk of manifesting suicidal ideation.

Conclusions: Women with HIV showed a high prevalence to gender violence and suicidal ideation. Understanding the relationship between these two grievances may contribute to the comprehensive care of these women and implementation of actions to prevent violence and suicide.

Abstract [1] Full-text [free] access [2]

Editor’s notes: The HIV epidemic in Brazil is becoming increasingly feminized. The male to female ratio of HIV infections has decreased from 26 to 1.5 men for every woman, over the past 10 years. Within the HIV field, there has been growing recognition of the mental health impacts of HIV infection, and the importance of considering how best to address this issue, as part of service provision. Similarly, there has been growing recognition within the violence field, that experiences of violence from a partner has both short and long term mental health impacts. Women who have violent partners may be at greater risk of contracting HIV, and be at risk of violence following disclosure. This paper illustrates the ways in which these issues cluster. The study finds that women living with HIV who had a history of violence are far more likely to report being HIV positive. The findings illustrate the need for HIV services to be able to both support women with mental health support needs, and support women who have a history of violence. The findings suggests that HIV counsellors need to be able to discuss issues of depression, suicidal ideation and violence, and potentially facilitate referral to specialized services in each area.

Latin America [6]
Brazil [7]
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