‘So hurt and broken’: A qualitative study of experiences of violence and HIV outcomes among Zambian youth living with HIV

Katherine G. Merrill, Jacquelyn C. Campbell, Caitlin E. Kennedy, Virginia M. Burke, Sam Miti, Christiana Frimpong, Michele R. Decker, Elizabeth A. Abrams, Jonathan K. Mwansa, Julie A. Denison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Emerging data show associations between violence victimisation and negative HIV outcomes among youth in sub-Saharan Africa. We conducted in-depth interviews with adolescents and young adults living with HIV (aged 15–24 years) in Ndola, Zambia, to better understand this relationship. We purposively selected 41 youth (24 females, 17 males) with varied experiences of violence and virologic results. Analysis used thematic coding. Two-thirds of participants said violence affected their medication adherence, clinic attendance, and/or virologic results. They focused on the negative effects of psychological abuse from family members in homes and peers at schools, which were the most salient forms of violence raised, and sexual violence against females. In contrast, they typically depicted physical violence from caregivers and teachers as a standard discipline practice, with few impacts. Youth wanted HIV clinic settings to address verbal abuse and emotional maltreatment, alongside physical and sexual violence, including through peer mentoring. Violence–especially verbal and emotional forms–must be recognised as a potential barrier to HIV self-management among youth living with HIV in the region. Further testing of clinic, home, and school-based interventions may be critical to reducing levels of violence and improving HIV outcomes in this vulnerable but resilient population. Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT04115813.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)444-456
Number of pages13
JournalGlobal public health
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2022


  • HIV
  • Violence
  • Zambia
  • adolescent
  • young adult

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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