History of childhood sexual abuse and HIV risk behaviors in homosexual and bisexual men

David J. Brennan, Wendy L Hellerstedt, Michael W Ross, Seth L. Welles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Objectives. We examined the prevalence and frequency of childhood sexual abuse and their association with sexual risk among a sample of gay and bisexual men. Methods. Cross-sectional data were collected by survey from randomly selected gay and bisexual men who attended the 1997 and 1998 Minneapolis/St. Paul Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Festivals. Data included demographics, sexual activity, history of childhood sexual abuse, HIV status, history of sexually transmitted infection, use of sex-related drugs (such as crack, cocaine, Ecstasy, amyl nitrate, crystal methamphetamine, and Special K), and history of exchanging sex for payment. Results. childhood sexual abuse was reported by 15.5% of the survey respondents (n = 134). Those who reported experiencing abuse regularly were more likely to (1) be HIV positive, (2) have exchanged sex for payment, and (3) be a current user of sex-related drugs. Neither unsafe sex nor sexually transmitted infections were associated with childhood sexual abuse. Conclusions. These findings show that more than 1 in 7 gay and bisexual men in a non-clinical, festival-based setting were victims of childhood sexual abuse and that childhood sexual abuse was associated with alarmingly high rates of men who were HIV infected and antecedent risk behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1107-1112
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 6 2007


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