Introduction: A cross-sectional study was conducted to examine the association between childhood abuse, HIV-related sexual risks, and gender relations among African-American women.
Methods: The sample 165 African-American women, 18-29 years of age, were recruited by street outreach from a lower socioeconomic community in San Francisco, CA. A face-to-face interview was administered to assess HIV/STD-sexual risk practices, alcohol use, physical abuse, affective health, and relationship commitment. Childhood sexual abuse was defined as experiencing forced sex prior to age 16.
Results: The prevalence of childhood sexual abuse in this sample was 13.3%. Compared to women who were not abused during childhood, women who reported a history of childhood sexual abuse were 1.5 times more likely to have had an abortion, 1.4 times more likely to report having an STD, 2.4 times as likely to report having greater than two lifetime STDs, 3.8 times as likely to have a history of anal sex, 2.6 times as likely to worry about acquiring HIV, 3.9 times more likely to believe their partner did not care for them, twice as likely to doubt the longevity of their relationship, 5.1 times as likely to have a partner who had been physically abusive within the previous 3 months, 2.6 times as likely to have a partner who was physically abusive when asked to use condoms, and 1.5 times as likely to consume three or more glasses of alcohol at one time.
Conclusions: Awareness of a women's history of child sexual abuse can assist in making appropriate medical and social referrals and can lead to the development of more tailored HIV prevention programs for African-American women.