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Gender, Power and Use of Barrier Contraceptives in India



National Institute of
  Child Health and Human
(at the NIH)

International Center for
  Research on Women

• Samraksha (an Indian NGO)
• Rotary TTK Blood Bank
• Several Indian consultants

Principal Investigator
Suneeta Krishnan, PhD

Women’s disempowered status in their relationships, households and communities are gaining increasing attention as important contributors to their susceptibility to HIV/Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). The subordination of women as part of a patriarchal family structure is felt to be a primary cause of women’s poor reproductive health in India. Gender-based power (measured in terms of women’s relative access to resources and decision-making agency) is likely to influence women’s susceptibility to STIs in a number of ways, such as limiting their decision-making ability around contraception and sex; or constraining their access to information and health services. We will characterize the nature of gender-based power among married women and their husbands in Bangalore, India and its associations with susceptibility for STIs and HIV (measured in terms of contraceptive and sexual history, barrier method choice and use, and HIV/STI prevalence).

Specific Aims

  • To characterize women’s power and to identify aspects of women’s power that are associated with susceptibility to HIV/STIs at baseline and over time;

  • To estimate the uptake of barrier methods (after counseling) and to identify aspects of women’s power that are associated with barrier method choice;

  • To identify aspects of women’s power that are associated with STIs and HIV;

  • To assess the appropriateness and characteristics of potential interventions aimed at enhancing women’s power;

  • To examine how gender-based power should influence the Description of interventions to promote physical and chemical barrier methods.

Study Description

Building on formative qualitative research, we will recruit a cohort of 670 women in Bangalore, India, and will follow them for one year. We will invite women to enroll their husbands in the study in order to examine men’s perspectives. We will rely on state-of-the-art techniques both for interviewing (Automated Computer-Assisted Self-Interview [ACASI]) and for diagnosing STIs (ligase chain reaction tests [LCR]) and HIV (Enzyme Immuno Assay [EIA]).


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