The Influence of Power on HIV Risk Among Pregnant Women in Rural Haiti

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Given that condom use is not directly under a woman's control, the sexual division of power may play an important role in sexual behavior among pregnant women. We assessed the influence of factors related to the theory of gender and power (e.g., relationship power, abuse history, and sexual communication) on sexual behavior (e.g., two or more partners in the year prior to pregnancy, condom use, condom-use intentions, and STI diagnosis) among 196 pregnant women recruited from five community dispensaries in rural Haiti. Results showed that gender and power factors significantly related to sexual behavior. Gender and power factors were most significant for condom use and intention to use condoms, accounting for 18 and 25% of the variance above and beyond HIV knowledge and demographic covariates, respectively. These results suggest the need to create prevention interventions that restore power imbalances, provide support for women suffering abuse, and strengthen communication skills.

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