Online Program

A model describing childhood sexual abuse, HIV, and PTSD in a sample of high-risk men who have sex with men

Monday, November 4, 2013

Christine M. Holland, PhD, Counseling and Psychological Services, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Jason Churchill, AA, Behavioral Sciences Department, California State Polytechnic University Pomona, Pomona, CA
Jason Cencirulo, BA, Department of Education and Psychology, Pepperdine University, Los Angeles, CA
Background: This study explored the association between childhood sexual abuse (CSA), HIV-status, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and adult functioning in a sample of high-risk Men who have Sex with Men (MSM). MSM have disproportionately high rates of CSA and PTSD. In the general population PTSD has been associated with negative health outcomes, including substance abuse, fear of intimacy, and sexual risk; however, these relationships have not been demonstrated among MSM. Critically evaluating these constructs as an integrative model is important to developing specialized interventions for MSM with a history of CSA and PTSD. Methods: Participants were 485 MSM who completed an online survey. Participants were recruited through internet message boards marketed toward men looking for sexual encounters, social media, and word-of-mouth outreach. We assessed for childhood sexual abuse, HIV-status, and current biopsychosocial functioning. Results: Over 60% of HIV-positive MSM reported probable PTSD. Ninety percent of the HIV-positive MSM who reported a history of CSA also endorsed significant PTSD symptoms as adults. Having a history of both CSA and PTSD predicted fear of intimacy, poorer health outcomes, and drug abuse. Neither PTSD nor childhood sexual abuse were associated with sexual risk. Empirical models organizing these relationships were tested via structural equation modeling. PTSD mediated the relationship between CSA and fear of intimacy and poorer health outcome. Conclusions: Early trauma of CSA may increase the risk of developing PTSD once diagnosed with HIV. Our results support the need to routinely screen for PTSD and CSA among MSM, both with and without HIV.

Learning Areas:

Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the association between childhood sexual abuse, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and adult functioning in a risky sample of Men who have sex with men (MSM). Describe the rates of childhood sexual abuse and PTSD among high risk HIV positive and negative MSM. Discuss the sequelae of childhood sexual abuse on adult functioning

Keyword(s): HIV/AIDS, Gay Men

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked on multiple federally funded grants focusing on behavioral interventions for HIV prevention and treatment. Among my scientific interests has been understanding sexual risk in HIV positive MSM.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

Back to: 3300.0: Sex, violence, and HIV