Background: Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. Noticeably absent from the known risk factors for HPV infection is history of sexual abuse. The current study examined the association between sexual abuse and incident high-risk HPV among young adult black women.
Methods: This longitudinal study was part of a larger HIV/STI randomized controlled behavioral trial that randomly recruited eligible participants from October 2002 through March 2006. At baseline and 12-month follow-up, 665 black women, aged between 18 and 29, completed a survey assessing known HPV risk factors and history of sexual abuse, and provided specimens that were assayed for high-risk HPV. Incident high-risk HPV infection was defined as a laboratory-confirmed test for high-risk HPV at 12-month follow-up after testing HPV-negative at baseline.
Results: The prevalence of high-risk HPV was 38.9%. Age-stratified multiple regression analyses examined sexual abuse that occurred during the 12-month follow-up and acquisition of high-risk HPV; known risk factors for HPV were entered as covariates. Women aged between 18 and 24 with a history of sexual abuse in the past year, compared with participants without a history, were 4.5 times more likely to test positive for an incident high-risk HPV infection (P <0.007). This relationship was not significant for the overall sample or for women aged between 25 and 29 years.
Discussion: This is one of the first analyses demonstrating exposure to sexual abuse as a predictor of high-risk HPV. HPV vaccination recommendations for black women, 18 to 24 years of age, with a history of sexual abuse warrant special consideration.