Increase in HIV incidence in women exposed to rape
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OBJECTIVE: To determine the incidence of HIV acquisition in women postrape compared with a cohort of women who had not been raped.
DESIGN: A prospective cohort study.
METHODS: The Rape Impact Cohort Evaluation study based in Durban, South Africa, enrolled women aged 16-40 years from postrape care services, and a control group of women from Primary Healthcare services. Women who were HIV negative at baseline (441 in the rape-exposed group and 578 in the control group) were followed for 12-36 months with assessments every 3 months in the first year and every 6 months thereafter. Multivariable Cox regression models adjusted for baseline and time varying covariates were used to investigate the effect of rape exposure on HIV incidence over follow-up.
RESULTS: Eighty-six women acquired HIV during 1605.5 total person-years of follow-up, with an incident rate of 6.6 per 100 person-years [95% confidence interval (CI): 4.8-9.1] among the rape exposed group and 4.7 per 100 person-years (95% CI: 3.5-6.2) among control group. After controlling for confounders (age, previous trauma, social support, perceived stress, multiple partners and transactional sex with a casual partner), women exposed to rape had a 60% increased risk of acquiring HIV [adjusted hazard ratio: 1.59 (95% CI: 1.01-2.48)] compared with those not exposed. Survival analysis showed difference in HIV incident occurred after month 9.
CONCLUSION: Rape is a long-term risk factor for HIV acquisition. Rape survivors need both immediate and long-term HIV prevention and care.
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