Thursday, June 18, 2009

Rape and HIV in South Africa

The title links to a Globe & Mail overview of a very disturbing recent report about sexual assault in South Africa. The original report is here.

Some 27% of randomly sampled men report at least one rape lifetime, and almost 5% report a rape within the past year. Many - but certainly not all - rapes were within a relationship.

Some 3% of men reported an MSM rape, and 10% of respondents reported that they themselves had been victim of an MSM rape.

The authors describe this phenomenon in terms of a culture of violence and sexual entitlement among South African men, as well as in terms of potentially abusive personal histories among men who rape.

As usual, HIV infection co-occurs with those who are most risky, seemingly a universal problem: who are physically violent towards women are twice as likely to be HIV-positive. They are also more likely to pay for sex and to not use condoms.

Any woman raped by a man over the age of 25 has a one in four chance of her attacker being HIV-positive.

There is also a methodological note: they used PDAs and in the field to collect the data anonymously, which seems to have worked in lessening social desirability responding (!). They also used finger-sticks to create dry samples to test for HIV, which they analyzed later (leaving the men anonymous but not informing them of their HIV status).

A dramatic example of the hard barrier culture can represent.

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