The Tathmini GBV study was a cluster randomized trial to assess the impact of a comprehensive health facility- and community-based program delivered through the HIV/AIDS program platform on reduction in gender-based violence and improved care for survivors. Twelve health facilities and surrounding communities in the Mbeya Region of Tanzania were randomly assigned to intervention or control arms. Population-level effects were measured through two cross-sectional household surveys of women ages 15–49, at baseline (n=1,299) and at 28 months following program scale-out (n=1,250). Delivery of gender-based violence services was assessed through routine recording in health facility registers. Generalized linear mixed effects models and analysis of variance were used to test intervention effects on population and facility outcomes, respectively.
At baseline, 52 percent of women reported an experience of recent intimate partner violence. The odds of reporting experience of this violence decreased by 29 percent from baseline to follow-up in the absence of the intervention (time effect OR=0.71, 95% CI: 0.57–0.89). While the intervention contributed an additional 15 percent reduction, the effect was not statistically significant. The program, however, was found to contribute to positive, community-wide changes including less tolerance for certain forms of violence, more gender-equitable norms, better knowledge about gender-based violence, and increased community actions to address violence. The program also led to increased utilization of gender-based violence services at health facilities. Nearly three times as many client visits for gender-based violence were recorded at intervention (N=1,427) compared to control (N=489) facilities over a 16-month period. These visits were more likely to include the provision of an HIV test (55.3% vs. 19.6%, p=.002).
The study demonstrated the feasibility and impact of integrating gender-based violence and HIV programming to combat both of these major public health problems. Further opportunities to scale out GBV prevention and response strategies within HIV/AIDS service delivery platforms should be pursued.