Sexual orientation, sexual abuse, and HIV-risk behaviors among adolescents in the Pacific Northwest

Am J Public Health. 2006 Jun;96(6):1104-10. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2005.065870. Epub 2006 May 2.


Objectives: We explored HIV risk behaviors, sexual orientation, and sexual abuse among 5 school-based cohorts in Seattle, Wash (SEA95 and SEA99:N=7477 and N=6590), and British Columbia (BC92, BC98, and BC03 [weighted]: N=239975, N=281576, and N=265132).

Methods: An HIV risk scale of 7 items assessed risky sexual behaviors and injection drug use. Self-identified sexual orientation included heterosexual, bisexual, gay/lesbian, and, in British Columbia only, mostly heterosexual. Analyses of covariance were conducted separately by gender and were adjusted for age and sexual abuse when comparing means.

Results: Gay/lesbian and bisexual adolescents had higher mean age-adjusted risk scores compared with heterosexual and mostly heterosexual adolescents. After we controlled for sexual abuse history, mean scores were 2 to 4 times higher among abused students than among nonabused students in each sexual orientation group. Age/abuse-adjusted models better explained the variance in risk scores (R(2)=0.10-0.31), but sexual orientation remained an independent predictor.

Conclusion: Sexual minority adolescents who attended school reported higher HIV risk behaviors, and higher prevalence of sexual victimization may partially explain these risks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • British Columbia
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • HIV Infections*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Sexuality / classification*
  • Sexuality / psychology
  • Washington