India is the epicenter of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Asia. Previous research indicates that the majority of HIV-positive women in India were infected by their husbands, their only sexual partner, which makes them difficult identify as a high-risk population. This paper seeks to assess social factors associated with the transmission of HIV based on demographic determinants, such as age; sexual behavior; and gendered discrimination, such as domestic violence. Research for this paper consists of secondary statistical analysis of the National Family Health Survey, which collected quantitative data on demographic and socioeconomic determinants for analysis of healthcare, domestic abuse, and emerging health issues. As most participants were tested for HIV as part of the survey, it provides regional estimates of HIV serostatus for the general population in India. Results from the bivariate analyses indicate that for the female participants, socioeconomic status has an association with serostatus, as HIV-positive women were significantly (p<0.001) more likely to have a low level of education than their HIV-negative counterparts. Unexpectedly, female HIV-positive respondents displayed low tendencies toward high-risk sexual behavior, as less than 10% had two or more sexual partners in their lifetime. Finally, they were significantly more likely to have previously experienced domestic violence (45%) and sexual violence (22%) than the rest of the population. Findings from the multivariate analyses show that female respondents who were formerly married (OR=5.27, CI=3.07 - 9.04), Hindu (OR=2.35, CI=1.22 - 4.54), or employed (OR=1.45, CI=0.96 - 2.18) had significantly (p<0.05) increased odds of being seropositive than their counterparts. Moreover, female participants with low levels of education were 2.26 times as likely to be HIV infected, compared to those who had attended secondary or higher education institutions (OR=2.27, CI=1.40 - 3.68). Results illustrate that Indian women's vulnerability to HIV infection is not the product of their sexual risk behavior. The most prominent social factors are their socioeconomic status, such as their level of education, and other sociodemographic determinants, including their region of residence.
hiv india gender domestic violence sexual risk behavior socioeconomic status