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Intimate Partner Violence and Sexually Transmitted Infections Among Young Adult Women

Hess, Kristen L. PhD*; Javanbakht, Marjan PhD*; Brown, Joelle M. PhD*; Weiss, Robert E. PhD; Hsu, Paul PhD*; Gorbach, Pamina M. DrPH*

Sexually Transmitted Diseases: May 2012 - Volume 39 - Issue 5 - p 366–371
doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0b013e3182478fa5
Original Study

Background: Intimate partner violence (IPV) is common among young adult relationships, and is associated with significant morbidity, including sexually transmitted infections (STI). This study measured the association between IPV victimization and perpetration and prevalent STIs and STI-risk behaviors among a sample of young women.

Methods: This analysis uses wave 3 of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and was restricted to the 3548 women who reported on a sexual relationship that occurred in the previous 3 months and agreed to STI testing. A multivariate random effects model was used to determine associations between STI and STI-risk behaviors and IPV.

Results: The IPV prevalence over the past year was 32%—3% victim-only, 12% perpetrator-only, and 17% reciprocal. The STI prevalence was 7.1%. Overall, 17% of participants reported partner concurrency and 32% reported condom use at last vaginal intercourse. In multivariate analysis, victim-only and reciprocal IPV were associated with not reporting condom use at last vaginal intercourse. Perpetrator-only, victim-only, and reciprocal IPV were associated with partner concurrency. Victim-only IPV was associated with a higher likelihood of having a prevalent STI (odds ratio: 2.1; 95% confidence interval: 1.0–4.2).

Conclusions: This analysis adds to the growing body of literature that suggests that female IPV victims have a higher STI prevalence, as well as a higher prevalence of STI-risk behaviors, compared with women in nonviolent relationships. Women in violent relationships should be considered for STI screening in clinics, and IPV issues should be addressed in STI prevention messages, given its impact on risk for STI acquisition.

From the *Department of Epidemiology, and the Department of Biostatistics, University of California, Los Angeles, CA

This research uses data from Add Health, a project directed by Kathleen Mullan Harris and designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and funded by grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 23 other federal agencies and foundations. Special acknowledgment is due Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Information on how to obtain the Add Health data files is available on the Add Health website ( No direct support was received from grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis.

Supported by the UCLA AIDS Institute and the UCLA Center for AIDS Research (AI28697).

Correspondence: Kristen L. Hess, MPH, PhD, Department of Epidemiology, University of California, Los Angeles, 650 Charles E. Young Dr South, CHS 41-295, Box 951772, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1772. E-mail:

Received for publication September 16, 2011, and accepted December 20, 2011.

© Copyright 2012 American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association