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High Prevalence of Childhood Emotional, Physical and Sexual Trauma Among a Canadian Cohort of HIV-Seropositive Illicit Drug Users

August 17, 2011

More resources are needed to respond to the long-term effects of childhood maltreatment upon injection drug users (IDU) who are HIV-positive, according to the current study. The authors examined the prevalence and correlates of antecedent emotional, physical, and sexual abuse among a community-recruited cohort of adult HIV-positive illicit drug users.


To estimate the prevalence of childhood abuse at baseline, the team used data from the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, a 28-item validated instrument employed to retrospectively assess maltreatment during childhood. Logistic regression was conducted to estimate relationships between sub-types of childhood maltreatment with several social-demographic, drug-using, and clinical characteristics.

The analysis included 233 HIV-positive IDU, of whom 83 (35.6 percent) were women. Many participants reported moderate or severe emotional childhood abuse (51.9 percent), emotional neglect (36.9 percent), physical abuse (51.1 percent), physical neglect (46.8 percent), and sexual abuse (41.6 percent). In multivariate analyses, reports of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse were independently associated with greater odds of recent incarceration. In addition, emotional abuse and neglect were independently associated with a score of 16 or greater on the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale.

"There was no association between any form of childhood maltreatment and clinical HIV variables, including viral load, CD4+ count, and history of antiretroviral therapy use," the authors reported. "These findings underscore the negative impact of childhood maltreatment on social functioning and mental health in later life. Given the substantial prevalence of childhood maltreatment among this population, there is a need for evidence-based resources to address the deleterious effect it has on the health and social functioning of HIV-positive IDU."

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Excerpted from:
06.2011; Vol. 23; No. 6: P. 714-721; Georgia Walton, Steven J. Co, M.-J. Milloy, Jiezhi Qi, Thomas Kerr, Evan Wood

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