The Associations of Intimate Partner Violence and Non-Partner Sexual Violence with Hypertension in South African Women
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This study describes associations of intimate partner violence (IPV), non-partner sexual violence (NPSV) and sexual harassment (SH) exposures with hypertension in South African women aged 18–40 years. Baseline data (n = 1742) from the Rape Impact Cohort Evaluation study, including a history of sexual, physical, emotional and economic IPV, NPSV and SH were examined. Hypertension was based on blood pressure ≥140/90 mmHg or a previous diagnosis. Logistic regressions were adjusted for traditional hypertension risk factors and previous trauma (e.g., recent rape). Hypertension was more prevalent in women with a history of all forms of IPV, NPSV, and SH, all p ≤ 0.001, compared to women without. Frequent NPSV (adjusted odds ratio: 1.63; 95% CI: 1.27–2.67) any SH (2.56; 1.60–4.03), frequent physical (1.44; 1.06–1.95) and emotional IPV (1.45; 1.06–1.98), and greater severity of emotional IPV (1.05; 1.02–1.08) were associated with hypertension. Current depression, post-traumatic stress symptoms and/or alcohol binge-drinking completely or partially mediated these associations. This study shows that exposure to gender-based violence is associated with hypertension in young women. Understanding the role of psychological stress arising from abuse may enable the development of prevention and management strategies for hypertension among women with histories of abuse.
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