Child Abuse May Raise HIV Risks

PITTSBURGH, July 23 (UPI) — Gay and bisexual men reporting sex abuse and social shame as children may have psychosocial problems later putting them at risk for HIV, U.S. researchers say.

University of Pittsburgh researchers conducted a study of 1,000 HIV-positive and HIV-negative gay and bisexual men enrolled in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study.

Study author Sin How Lim and colleagues find 10 percent of study participants reported being victims of childhood sexual abuse and nearly 30 percent experienced gay-related victimization between the ages of 12 and 14 — such as verbal insults, bullying, threats of physical violence and physical assaults.

Both of these two groups were more likely to use illicit drugs and to engage in risky sexual behavior in adulthood, the researchers say.

These health issues, the researchers say, combine to create a “syndemic,” or linked epidemic, increasing the risk of AIDS in gay men.

“Our study shows that the early socialization experiences of gay men can be deeply stigmatizing and increase their risks for these syndemic conditions in adulthood,” Lim says in a statement. “Given the long-lasting impacts, effective interventions should address multiple interrelated social issues early on rather than focusing on each problem in isolation.”

The study findings were presented in Vienna at the International AIDS conference.

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