Childhood Sexual Abuse, Adolescent Sexual Coercion and Sexually Transmitted Infection Acquisition Among Homeless Female Adolescents
Objective: To examine the relationship between childhood experiences of sexual abuse, sexual coercion during adolescence, and the acquisition of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in a population of homeless adolescents. (authors)
Method: Homeless adolescent females (N = 216) from a northwestern United States city were recruited by street outreach workers for a longitudinal study of STI epidemiology. Baseline data on childhood abuse and recent history of sexual coercion were used to predict physiologically confirmed STI acquisition over the subsequent 6 months.
Results: About 38% of all girls reported a history of childhood sexual abuse (CSA). Girls with a history of CSA were more likely to report recent sexual coercion. In turn, sexual coercion in the last three months was significantly associated with a higher number of sexual partners (but not with a greater frequency of intercourse or with lower rates of condom use). Number of sexual partners significantly predicted the future acquisition of an STI within 6 months.
Conclusions: Interventions to reduce risky sexual behaviors in homeless adolescent females may need to consider the impact of CSA, particularly on the number of sexual partners during adolescence. However, it also should be noted that engagement in intercourse often results from coercion and is not voluntary in this population. (Authors)
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