The co-occurrence of intimate partner violence and syphilis among pregnant women in Bolivia
Diaz-Olavarrieta,Claudia; Wilson,Kate S.; Garcia,Sandra G.; Revollo,Rita; Richmond,Kara; Paz,Francisco; Chavez,Lorena
Journal of Women's Health 18(12): 2077-2086
Publication date: 2009
Intimate partner violence (IPV) and sexually transmitted infections (STI) are epidemics that disproportionately affect women. This study determined IPV prevalence and the association between IPV and positive syphilis tests among pregnant women attending antenatal clinics in three provinces in Bolivia.
We administered structured questionnaires to women after syphilis testing. The questionnaire included sociodemographic variables and four questions from the modified version of the Abuse Assessment Screen (AAS) to assess physical and sexual violence.
Of 6,002 women who completed the violence questionnaire and had a syphilis test, 20.4% (n=1227) reported physical or sexual abuse or both committed by their partner in the past year. Prevalence of positive syphilis tests was twice as high among women who reported IPV (8%) than among women who did not (4%) (p<0.01). Women's age (younger), education level (lower), occupation as homemaker, being in a consensual union, more previous pregnancies, lower economic status, and language spoken at home (Spanish and an indigenous language), as well as history of IPV in the past 12 months, were significantly associated with positive syphilis tests in bivariate analysis. History of IPV remained significantly associated with positive syphilis tests in multivariate analysis (OR 1.59, 95% CI 1.23-2.07). In addition, low education among women's partners and having at least one previous pregnancy were positively associated with IPV in multivariate analysis.
There is a significant association between history of partner violence and a positive syphilis test among pregnant women, suggesting that syphilis can be an important negative health consequence of IPV. Bolivia's new maternal and infant health program in antenatal clinics, which includes universal syphilis screening, should also provide screening and follow-up care for IPV.