A systematic review of the effects of intimate partner violence on HIV-positive pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa


BACKGROUND: Intimate partner violence (IPV) affects more than one in three women in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It is associated with both pregnancy and HIV, adversely affecting women in this region. This is the first systematic examination of the effects of IPV on HIV-positive (HIV+) pregnant women in SSA. METHODS: A systematic review of the literature on HIV+ pregnant women experiencing IPV in SSA was carried out. Searches were carried out in PubMed, Web of Science and African Journals Online databases. Articles published between January 2010 and June 2020, in English, were included. Data extraction included details on study locations, study design, study participants and the study outcome variables (depression, IPV, medication adherence, postpartum unsafe sex, and HIV disclosure). RESULTS: Fourteen studies (ten cross-sectional studies, four cohort studies) were included. Results indicate a high prevalence of IPV amongst pregnant women with HIV in SSA (18.0 to 63.1%). The results suggest an association between HIV-positive status and consequences of IPV during pregnancy, particularly mental health effects, such as depression symptoms and suicidal ideation. HIV-related stigma has a key role within the relationship between HIV and IPV during pregnancy. One study described that the presence of IPV reduces adherence to Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT) medication. Three studies reported no association between HIV positive status or HIV status disclosure and IPV during pregnancy. DISCUSSION/CONCLUSIONS: The systematic review confirms interconnections between IPV and HIV seropositivity amongst pregnant women in SSA. Importantly, stigma, social isolation and poor mental health hinder help-seeking, disclosure, and treatment adherence among HIV+ pregnant women exposed to IPV in SSA. As a result, the potential of community interventions to tackle issues associated with IPV in HIV-positive pregnant women in this area should be explored in research, policy, and practice.


Yonga AM, Kiss L, Onarheim KH




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Determinants of Health
  • Determinants of Health
    • Stigma/discrimination
    • Abuse
  • Population(s)
    • Women
    • General HIV+ population
  • Prevention, Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Engagement and Care Cascade
  • Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Treatment
  • Mental Health
    • Depression


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