Prevalence of Childhood Sexual Abuse in a Southern HIV-Positive Cohort


Journal Article (Academic article)

Objective: This study describes the prevalence and predictors of sexual and physical trauma among HIV-infected persons in the Deep South. Methods: Prevalence of sexual and physical abuse was evaluated in a sample of 611 HIV-positive individuals. Interviews included a behavioral assessment to measure abuse and questions about the behaviors and attributes of primary caretakers during childhood. Results: Over half of this sample was sexually or physically abused during their lives. Approximately 30% of respondents reported either sexual or severe physical abuse before age 13. Nearly one quarter of both men and women reported experiencing childhood sexual abuse. Parent characteristics are associated with childhood abuse, but not lifetime abuse. Conclusions: This is the largest study of a clinic population, using standard sexual abuse measures, to find such high rates of childhood abuse. Sexual abuse and physical abuse are related to higher rates of activities that put individuals at risk for contracting and transmitting HIV and other STDs. These findings may help explain why people engage in high-HIV-risk activities and may assist health educators and clinicians in designing more appropriate prevention messages and care

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Whetten, K; Leserman, J; Lowe, K; Stangl, D; Thielman, N; Swartz, M; Hanisch, L; Van Scoyoc, L

Published Date

  • 2006

Published In

  • American Journal of Public Health

Volume / Issue

  • 96 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 970 - 973