Girls Abused by Dates at Higher STD Risk
August 4, 2005
Girls in grades 9-12 who have been subjected to physical or sexual violence by a date are more likely to report STD testing and diagnoses than their non-abused peers, according to an analysis of 1,621 sexually active girls involved in the 1999 and 2001 Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Surveys.
About one-third of the girls surveyed had ever been tested for an STD, and 5 percent had been diagnosed with one, study author Michele R. Decker, of Harvard's School of Public Health, and colleagues found. Almost one of every three girls had ever been sexually or physically abused by a date. Nearly 40 percent of girls who had been tested for an STD reported dating violence, and more than half of those who had been diagnosed with an STD or HIV reported such abuse. Girls who experienced both sexual and physical violence were 2.4 times more likely to test for an STD, three times more likely to have tested for an STD and HIV, and 2.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with an STD.
Overall, "among dating violence victims we see that 1 in 12 girls report a sexually transmitted disease, compared with 1 in 30 for non-victimized girls," said Decker.
"Often in a violent relationship the abuse will carry over to sexual experiences," said Decker, explaining the correlation. "That is to say that these girls are often in coercive or forced sexual situations with their dating partners and are unable to request condoms or ensure that condoms are used." Additionally, abusive men often have "multiple sexual partners outside of the relationship and are not necessarily using STD protection," she said.
Decker said health services for abuse survivors are "crucial," and she recommended expanding sex education "to consider the role of sexual coercion and violence." "To truly prevent dating violence and its damaging health impacts, we must promote healthy and respectful relationships among teens and hold abusers accountable for their actions."
The full report, "Dating Violence and Sexually Transmitted Disease/HIV Testing and Diagnosis Among Adolescent Females," was published in the journal Pediatrics (2005;116(2):e272-e276).
08.01.2005; Charnicia E. Huggins
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.