This longitudinal study examined rates of sexually transmitted diseases in adults who had been abused and neglected as children.
This study on rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in adults who had been abused and neglected as children found that adults who were victims of childhood sexual abuse had an increased risk for any sexually transmitted disease, and an increased risk for more than one type of sexually transmitted disease, while adults who were victims of childhood physical abuse were at an increased risk for more than one type of STDs. This study examined the rate of STDs in adult survivors of childhood abuse and neglect to determine whether four factors increased the risk of exposure to STDs. These factors included direct exposure to STDs through child sexual abuse, increased rates of risky sexual behavior among victims of sexual abuse, earlier initiation of sexual activity, and sexual activity with riskier partners. Data for the study were obtained from a sample of maltreated children, age 0 to 11 years old between 1967 and 1971, that was compared to a control group of children who did not have a documented history of abuse and neglect. The children were followed into adulthood and information on lifetime history of STDs was collected as part of a medical status examination conducted when the participants were approximately 41 years old. The data was analyzed to determine the extent of STDs among the cohort of adults who were abused as children. The findings suggest that childhood maltreatment, specifically sexual and physical abuse, increases the risk for STDs later in life, and that early screenings and interventions are needed to identify STDS among child abuse victims. Study limitations are discussed. Tables and references