GBV-HIV interlink

Gender Based Violence (GBV) and HIV are significant health and human rights concerns. Separately, GBV and HIV have been widely documented across the areas of research, policy and programming. What remains inadequately studied and documented is the convergence between the two and the unprecedented health, development and human rights challenges they have created. GBV increases the risks of acquiring HIV.[7] For example, physical, sexual and emotional violence have been shown to lead to earlier initiation of HIV risk behaviours and reduced ability to access HIV treatment services.

HIV risk behaviour include: increased likelihood of engaging in transactional sex, early sexual initiation, having multiple sexual partners, having unprotected sex, increased likelihood of harmful substance abuse (drugs and/or alcohol) & increased likelihood of perpetration or experience of violence as an adult.[8]

Similarly, children living with HIV or in households where a member may be HIV positive are more likely to experience violence.

There is rationale for integrating GBV into HIV Care.

  • GBV is a known risk factor for HIV infection or worsened HIV outcomes.
  • HIV is a known risk factor for increased risk of violence.[9]
  • Global guidance on HIV testing and treatment for children and adolescents recognize the need to address violence.
  • Persons who are at risk of or have experienced violence present to health facilities routinely but rarely disclose their exposure. It is therefore important for health care providers to have the skills to suspect and identify these survivors.[10]
  • Health care providers regularly encounter survivors of violence, in their routine practice but do not have the knowledge and skill on how to appropriately respond.
  • Available evidence shows that addressing integrating VAC can improve HIV and other health related outcomes, health seeking behaviour and partner communication (for adolescents)

Children and women are disproportionately affected by both epidemics. Linking efforts to address both epidemics is a potentially powerful strategy for eliminating the structural drivers of each and achieving lasting results in the fight against HIV. However, there is limited information on what models work to integrate GBV and HIV response and prevention. This hub presents publications (policy, research and strategies) that seek to eliminate the structural drivers of each and achieve lasting results in the fight against both epidemics.


[6] The Costs and Consequences of Sexual Violence and Cost-Effective Solutions. Publication from the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence.

[7] Addressing Violence against Women and HIV/AIDS; What Works? WHO. (2010).

[8] Childhood sexual abuse and health risk behaviours in patients with HIV and a history of injection drug use. Markowitz SM, O’Cleirigh C, Hendriksen ES, Bullis JR, Stein M, Safren SA. AIDS Behav. 2011; 15(7):1554–1560.

[9] Intimate partner violence, relationship power inequity, and incidence of HIV infection in young women in South Africa: A cohort study. Jewkes, R. K., Dunkle, K., Nduna, M., & Shai, N. (2010). The Lancet, 376(9734), 41–48.

[10] The clinical management of children and adolescents who have experienced sexual violence; Technical consideration for PEPFAR programs (2013).

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