Sexual violence aimed at girls, women in Swaziland linked to high HIV/AIDS risk, other health issues

A new report commissioned by UNICEF and CDC and recently published in the journal Lancet found that one in three girls in Swaziland has experienced sexual violence by age 18, which can lead to serious health issues such as HIV, IRIN/PlusNews reports.

In addition, the researchers found that 22% of Swazi women between ages 15 and 24 are HIV-positive, noting that sexual violence could be a common HIV transmission mode among women in high-burden countries such as Swaziland.

Sexual violence was defined as forced sex, coerced sex and forced touching. Five percent of girls had experienced forced sex before age 18, and coerced intercourse was reported by 9% of girls, according to the report. In addition, almost 90% of girls who had experienced sexual violence said that it first occurred between ages 13 and 17. The authors recommended that efforts to address issues surrounding sexual violence should "focus on prevention of perpetration by men of sexual violence, and since sexual- and intimate-partner violence might have common roots, local and national initiatives could be reviewed, adapted and scaled up for this purpose." According to the researchers, three-quarters of the boys and men who perpetrated the sexual violence were related or known to the girls (IRIN/PlusNews, 5/13).

An abstract of the report is available online.

Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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