The social context of gender-based violence, alcohol use and HIV risk among women involved in high-risk sexual behaviour and their intimate partners in Kampala, Uganda
This paper explores the interaction between gender-based violence and alcohol use and their links to vulnerability to HIV-infection in a population of women and their regular male partners in Kampala, Uganda. Data derive from 20 life history interviews (10 women and 10 men). Participants were drawn from a cohort of women at high risk of sexually transmitted infection (including HIV). Six of the women were current or former sex workers. Findings reveal that life histories are characterised by recurrent patterns of gender inequity related to violence, limited livelihood options and socioeconomic disadvantage. Overall, findings suggest women are able to negotiate safer sex and protect themselves better against abuse and violence from clients than from their intimate partners, although the status of men as 'client' or 'partner' is transitory and fluid. Among male respondents, alcohol led to intimate partner violence and high levels of sexual-risk taking, such as engagement with sex workers and reduced condom use. However, male partners are a heterogeneous group, with distinct and contrasting attitudes towards alcohol, condom use and violence. Actions to address gender-based violence need to be multi-pronged in order to respond to different needs and circumstances, of both women and men.