AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 381–389

Reported Physical and Sexual Abuse in Childhood and Adult HIV Risk Behaviour in Three African Countries: Findings from Project Accept (HPTN-043)


    • HIV/AIDS, STIs and TB ProgrammeHuman Sciences Research Council
    • Department of PaediatricsUniversity of the Witwatersrand
  • Arnošt Komárek
    • Department of Probability and Mathematical Statistics, Faculty of Mathematics and PhysicsCharles University
  • Chris Desmond
    • HIV/AIDS, STIs and TB ProgrammeHuman Sciences Research Council
    • Department of PaediatricsUniversity of the Witwatersrand
  • David Celentano
    • Department of EpidemiologyJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Steve Morin
    • Department of Medicine, Center for AIDS Prevention StudiesUniversity of California
  • Michael Sweat
    • Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesMedical University of South Carolina
  • Suwat Chariyalertsak
    • Research Institute for Health Sciences and Faculty of MedicineChiang Mai University
  • Alfred Chingono
    • Department of Psychiatry, College of Health SciencesUniversity of Zimbabwe
  • Glenda Gray
    • Perinatal HIV Research UnitUniversity of the Witswatersrand
  • Jessie Mbwambo
    • Department of PsychiatryMuhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences
  • Tom Coates
    • Department of MedicineUniversity of California
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10461-013-0439-7

Cite this article as:
Richter, L., Komárek, A., Desmond, C. et al. AIDS Behav (2014) 18: 381. doi:10.1007/s10461-013-0439-7


Childhood sexual and physical abuse have been linked to adolescent and adult risky sexual behaviors, including early sexual debut, an increased number of sexual partners, unprotected sex, alcohol and drug use during sex and sexual violence. This paper explores these relationships among both men and women who report histories of childhood abuse from representative samples of communities in three countries in southern and eastern Africa (South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania). Data were collected as part of a 3-year randomized community trial to rapidly increase knowledge of HIV status and to promote community responses through mobilisation, mobile testing, provision of same-day HIV test results and post-test support for HIV. The results indicate that reported childhood sexual and physical abuse is high in all three settings, also among men, and shows strong relationships with a range of sexual risk behaviors, including age at first sex (OR −0.6 (CI: −0.9, −0.4, p < 0.003)—among men, OR −0.7 (CI: −0.9, −0.5, p < 0.001)—among women), alcohol (OR 1.43 (CI: 1.22, 1.68, p < 0.001)—men, OR 1.83 (CI: 1.50, 2.24, p < 0.001)—women) and drug use (OR 1.65 (CI: 1.38, 1.97, p < 0.001)—men, OR 3.14 (CI: 1.95, 5.05, p < 0.001)—women) and two forms of partner violence—recent forced sex (OR 2.22 (CI: 1.66, 2.95, p < 0.001)—men, OR 2.76 (CI: 2.09, 3.64, p < 0.001)—women) and ever being hurt by a partner (OR 3.88 (CI: 2.84, 5.29, p < 0.001)—men, OR 3.06 (CI: 2.48, 3.76, p < 0.001)—women). Individuals abused in childhood comprise between 6 and 29 % of young adult men and women living in these African settings and constitute a population at high risk of HIV infection.


Child Sexual abuse Physical abuse HIV Risk behavior

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013