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Can Childhood Abuse Lead to Men Getting Tested for HIV More?

Can Childhood Abuse Lead to Men Getting Tested for HIV More?

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Over 370 men participated in a research project to find out. 

Researchers from the City University of New York and the State University of New York, Binghamton recently presented research at the 11th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science, where they discussed the association between experiences of adverse childhood events and HIV testing.

There’s been prior research that found gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men were more likely to report HIV-related outcomes if they’ve experienced some type of childhood abuse or trauma, according to Contagion Live.

While there is a smattering of data on sexual violence and HIV, there hasn’t been research investigating a connection between such abuse and HIV testing and prevention.

Researchers used data from a National Institute of Health-funded trial of an HIV self-testing intervention of young Black and African-American men who have sex with men. Over 370 men participated in the study, none of which were living with HIV. Researchers asked if any of the men could recall any experiences of sexual violence.

They found that almost one-third had experienced forced or pressured first sexual experiences, while two-thirds reported some sexual experience as a minor with a partner five years older or more that was forced or coerced. But analyses by the researchers found no association between experiences of sexual violence and recent HIV testing or PrEP use.  

“Although no associations were identified between childhood/adolescence [sexual violence experiences] and HIV testing and PrEP uptake in later life, provider knowledge of exposures is needed to deliver optimal, trauma-informed sexual health care to MSM of color,” the authors wrote.

“More research is needed to determine whether experiences of adulthood violence and/or an accumulation of childhood SVEs/[adverse child events] over time relate to multiple HIV prevention behaviors among MSM of color.”

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