Context: Previous studies suggest that a history of physical or sexual violence is positively associated with a history of sexually transmitted disease (STD). It is important to determine whetherabuse is also a risk factor for current STD infection.
Methods: Data were collected from 744 clients of an urban Midwestern prenatal clinic who gave birth in 1991-1996. Multiple logistic regression analyses were conducted to determine how the odds of having a history of STD or a current STD infection are affected by the experience of abuse.
Results: Overall, 30% of the women had a history of STD, and 18% had a current STD infection. Results of multivariate analyses showed that compared with nonabused women, those who had experienced any type of abuse had nearly twice the odds of having a history of infection and of currently having an STD. In separate analyses by abuse type, women with a history of only sexual abuse had twice the odds and those with a history of both physical and sexual abuse had nearly three times the odds of having a current STD, compared with women who reported no abuse.
Conclusions: Abused women are at significantly increased risk of having a history of STD; abuse is also associated with an increased risk of current infection, especially among those with any history of sexual abuse. Future studies should be undertaken to better understand the role that abuse may play in relation to STD risk.