Purpose of Review: This theoretical review identifies physiological mechanisms by which violence against women (VAW) may increase women’s susceptibility to HIV through trauma, stress, and immune dysfunction. Recent Findings: Research documents systemic and local immune responses are related to stress and trauma from abuse across the life course (i.e., childhood, IPV, adulthood re-victimization). Findings are interpreted within a theoretical framework grounded in the Social Stress Theory and the concept of toxic stress, and highlight the current state of the science connecting: (1) VAW to the physiological stress response and immune dysfunction, and (2) the physiological stress response and inflammation to HIV susceptibility and infection in the female reproductive tract. Summary: Despite a dearth of research in human subjects, evidence suggests that VAW plays a significant role in creating a physiological environment conducive to HIV infection. We conclude with a discussion of promising future steps for this line of research.
- Immune dysfunction
- Physiological stress response
- Violence against women
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases