Year of Publication



Public Health

Date Available


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)

Committee Chair

Pamela Teaster

Committee Member

Richard Crosby

Committee Member

Christina Studts, Ph.D.


Empowerment plays a major role in sexual violence and HIV among women worldwide. Findings on empowerment in relation to domestic violence or HIV are scarce and are conflicting. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between empowerment and HIV status by means of sexual violence, and to compare this relationship between previously married women (N = 2,658) and currently married women (N = 37,539) living in India. The Baron and Kenny mediated regression model was used, involving simple logistic and multiple logistic regression, drawing from the National Family Health Survey 2005-2006 (NFHS-3). Sexual violence was not found to mediate between empowerment and HIV status. However, a negative relationship between empowerment and HIV status was found among each marital status group. The inverse relationship between empowerment and HIV status was stronger among previously married women than among currently married women. Findings suggest that other factors, such as lack of condom use, may facilitate the link between low empowerment and an HIV-positive status. They also suggest that previously married women are at an increased risk of HIV due to low empowerment. Future research should explore other possible mediators and continue to focus on married women while also shifting focus to previously married women. There is a need for policymakers to transform gender norms via institutions and then for public health and human rights organizations to educate women about HIV and empower them through stigma reduction and economic initiatives.

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