Mechanisms linking gender-based violence to worse HIV treatment and care outcomes among women in the United States

Jennifer P. Jain, Lila A. Sheira, Edward A. Frongillo, Torsten B. Neilands, Mardge H. Cohen, Tracey E. Wilson, Aruna Chandran, Adaora A. Adimora, Seble G. Kassaye, Anandi N. Sheth, Margaret A. Fischl, Adebola A. Adedimeji, Janet M. Turan, Phyllis C. Tien, Sheri D. Weiser, Amy A. Conroy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective:To test whether substance use mediates the associations between gender-based violence (GBV) and suboptimal adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART), and GBV and poor engagement in care, among women living with HIV (WLHIV) in the United States (US).Design:We analyzed longitudinal data collected among 1717 WLHIV in the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS).Methods:From 2013 to 2017, WLHIV completed semi-annual assessments on GBV, substance use, and HIV treatment and care. Adjusted multilevel logistic regression models were built to estimate the impact of GBV on; suboptimal (<95%) adherence and at least one missed HIV care appointment without rescheduling in the past 6 months. Mediation analyses were performed to test whether heavy drinking and illicit drug use mediated the associations between GBV and the two HIV outcomes.Results:The mean age was 47 (standard deviation = 9), 5% reported experiencing GBV, 17% reported suboptimal adherence and 15% reported at least one missed appointment in the past 6 months. Women who experienced GBV had a significantly higher odds of suboptimal adherence [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) = 1.99; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.40-2.83] and missed appointments (aOR = 1.92, 95% CI = 1.32-2.33). Heavy drinking and illicit drug use mediated 36 and 73% of the association between GBV and suboptimal adherence and 29 and 65% of the association between GBV and missed appointments, respectively.Conclusions:Substance use is an underlying mechanism through which GBV affects outcomes along the HIV care continuum among WLHIV in the US. To optimize HIV treatment and care among women, interventions should address the combined epidemics of substance use, violence, and HIV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1861-1869
Number of pages9
Issue number13
StatePublished - Nov 1 2022


  • HIV
  • drug use
  • gender-based violence
  • heavy drinking and HIV treatment and care
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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