Child abuse in young, HIV-positive women: linkages to risk

Qual Health Res. 2009 Dec;19(12):1755-68. doi: 10.1177/1049732309353418.


In this article we explore the lives of young women living with HIV who experienced physical and/or sexual abuse in childhood. Using a modified version of the Life Story Interview, 40 women recruited from HIV clinics in three different states participated in a qualitative interview. Interviews covered abuse experiences, cognitive and emotional consequences of abuse, coping strategies, and sexual behavior and relationships. Overall, these young women had complex abuse histories, often experiencing more than one type of abuse in the context of other difficult life events. Avoidance and substance use were frequently utilized as coping strategies for abuse-related distress. Young women reported sexual and relationship concerns, including avoidance of sex, sexual dysfunction, sex as a trigger for abuse memories, and difficulty establishing intimacy and trust. Relationships between abuse-related reactions and sexual risk behavior, as well as recommendations for interventions, are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Trust
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult