Domestic violence and childhood sexual abuse in HIV-infected women and women at risk for HIV

Mardge Cohen, Catherine Deamant, Susan Barkan, Jean Richardson, Mary Young, Susan Holman, Kathryn Anastos, Judith Cohen, Sandra Melnick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

293 Scopus citations


Objectives. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence and effect of domestic violence and childhood sexual abuse in women with HIV or at risk for HIV infection. Methods. Participant with HIV or at risk for HIV infection enrolled in the Women's Interagency HIV study. Childhood sexual abuse; all physical, sexual, and coercive violence by a partner; HIV serostatus; demographic data; and substance use and sexual habits were assessed. Results. The lifetime prevalence of domestic violence was 66% and 67%, respectively, in 1288 women. One quarter of the women reported recent abuse, and 31% of the HIV-seropositive women and 27 % of the HIV-seronegative women reported childhood sexual abuse. Childhood sexual abuse was strongly associated with a lifetime history of domestic violence and high-risk behaviors, including using drugs, have more than 10 male sexual partners and having male partners at risks for HIV infection, and exchanging sex for drugs, money, or shelter. Conclusions. Our data support the hypothesis of a continuum of risk, with early childhood abuse leading to later domestic violence, which may increase the risk of behaviors leading to HIV infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)560-565
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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