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Sensation Seeking and Risk-Taking Propensity as Mediators in the Relationship Between Childhood Abuse and HIV-Related Risk Behavior

NCJ Number
Child Abuse & Neglect Volume: 32 Issue: 1 Dated: January 2008 Pages: 99-109
Marina A. Bornovalova; Marya A. Gwadz; Christopher Kahler; W.M. Aklin; C.W. Lejuez
Date Published
January 2008
11 pages
This study examined impulsivity, risk-taking propensity, and sensation seeking as mediators in the relationship between abuse history and engagement in HIV-related risk behaviors among inner-city African-American adolescents.
The findings indicate that abuse history was positively related to self-reported engagement in HIV-related risk behaviors. Childhood abuse across emotional, physical, and sexual domains can be devastating to the victims, their families, and society. Negative consequences can include interpersonal relationship problems, post-traumatic stress disorder, severe depression, deliberate self-injury, and suicide. Although the findings have linked child abuse directly with HIV and risky sexual behavior and indirectly with alcohol and drug use, this study focused largely on childhood sexual abuse. Despite the findings that physical and emotional abuse contribute to HIV-related risk behaviors, only a few studies have examined the mechanisms underlying the association between various forms of childhood abuse and HIV-related risk behavior. This limitation is unfortunate because understanding the mechanisms of risk processes is likely to facilitate the development of prevention efforts and treatments for those who have been victimized. Participants were 96 adolescents in grades 9 through 12 recruited through community after-school programs in the inner-city neighborhoods in the District of Columbia Metropolitan Area. The average age was 14.9 and 52 percent were male and 100 percent were African-American. Study limitations and future recommendations are discussed. Figure, table and references


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