Husbands’ Behavior and Wives’ Risk of Sexually Transmitted Infections and HIV in North India

Shelah S. Bloom, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Kaushalendra K. Singh, Banaras Hindu University

Indian women suffer from a high burden of reproductive disease, and the majority of HIV positive women in antenatal clinics were infected by their husbands. This study investigates the association between wives’ risk for STIs and their husbands’ risky sexual behavior, and health seeking behavior for symptoms of reproductive tract infections. A survey of a probability sample of couples was conducted among residents in Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal, India, in 2002; the total sample was 3387 couples. Controlling for sociodemographic factors, wives whose husbands reported recent nonmarital sex (OR=1.87, 95% CI=1.41-2.46) or paid sex (OR=1.75, 95% CI=1.07-2.85) were more likely to report symptoms of STIs. More empowered women—those recently exposed to the media—were more likely to seek treatment for symptoms (OR=1.77, 95% CI=1.18-2.64). This study supports the body of research in South Asia showing that women’s lack of empowerment puts them at risk for poor reproductive health outcomes.

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Presented in Session 154: Sexual Behavior in Developing Countries