The aim of this study was to describe psychosocial health factors in a community sample of men who sought care for sexual assault in the previous 3 months and who were recruited using Internet-based methods.
The cross-sectional survey assessed factors related to HIV postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) uptake and adherence postsexual assault: HIV risk perception, HIV PEP self-efficacy, mental health symptoms, social responses to sexual assault disclosure, PEP costs, negative health habits, and social support.
There were 69 men in the sample. Participants reported high levels of perceived social support. A high proportion reported symptoms of depression (n = 44, 64%) and posttraumatic stress disorder (n = 48, 70%) consistent with cutoffs for clinical diagnoses. Just over a quarter of participants reported past 30-day illicit substance use (n = 20, 29%), and 45 people (65%) reported weekly binge drinking (six or more drinks on one occasion).
Potential Impact of This Work on Health Equity and Forensic Nursing
Men are underrepresented in sexual assault research and clinical care. We highlight similarities and differences between our sample and prior clinical samples and also outline needs for future research and interventions.
Men in our sample were highly fearful of acquiring HIV, initiated HIV PEP, and completed or were actively taking HIV PEP at the time of data collection despite high rates of mental health symptoms and physical side effects. These findings suggest that forensic nurses need not only to be prepared to provide comprehensive counseling and care to patients about HIV risk and prevention options but also to address the unique follow-up needs of this population.