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Child Abuse Negl. 2007 Jan;31(1):39-53. Epub 2007 Jan 4.

Childhood neglect and adulthood involvement in HIV-related risk behaviors.

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  • 1Department of Sociology, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, USA.



Much research has been done to examine the long-term effects of being victimized by sexual, physical, and/or emotional abuse in childhood, but much less research has focused on the impact of childhood neglect experiences. This study examines the role that childhood neglect has on adult women's involvement in HIV-related risky behaviors.


The data come from a study of 250 "at risk" women living in the Atlanta, GA metropolitan area, most of whom were African American. Data were collected in face-to-face interviews between 1997 and 2000. Multiple regression was used to explore the relationship between childhood neglect experiences, self-esteem, attitudes toward condom use, and involvement in HIV-related risky behaviors.


Overall, the model tested received strong support by the study data. Childhood neglect led to reduced self-esteem. Neglect was associated with worsened attitudes toward condom use and women who experienced childhood neglect also reported more involvement in HIV risk behaviors.


HIV intervention programs ought to target women who have experienced childhood neglect, as neglect experiences have adverse impacts upon their self-esteem, condom-related attitudes, and HIV risk behavior practices in adulthood.

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