Sexual Risk Behavior and Lifetime HIV Testing: The Role of Adverse Childhood Experiences

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Dyer, T.V.; Turpin, R.E.; Hawthorne, D.J.; Jain, V.; Sayam, S.; Mittal, M. Sexual Risk Behavior and Lifetime HIV Testing: The Role of Adverse Childhood Experiences. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, 4372.


Despite the success of HIV prevention drugs such as PrEP, HIV incident transmission rates remain a significant problem in the United States. A life-course perspective, including experiences of childhood adversity, may be useful in addressing the HIV epidemic. This paper used 2019 BRFSS data to elucidate the role that childhood adversity plays in the relationship between HIV risk and HIV testing. Participants (n = 58,258) completed self-report measures of HIV risk behaviors, HIV testing, and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). The median number ACEs in the sample was 1, with verbal abuse (33.9%), and parental separation (31.3%) being the most common ACEs reported. Bivariate findings showed that all ACEs were associated with increased HIV risk and testing. However, increased risk was not correlated with increased HIV testing, with the highest incongruence related to mental health problems of household member (53.48%). While both self-reported HIV risk and ACEs were positively associated with HIV testing, their interaction had a negative association with testing (aPR = 0.51, 95%CI 0.42, 0.62). The results highlight the need for targeted HIV prevention strategies for at-risk individuals with a history of childhood adversity.