Adolescent girls that have been physically coerced into sexual intercourse are more likely to have had a sexually transmitted disease

Adolescent girls who say they have been physically coerced into sexual intercourse are more likely to have had a sexually transmitted disease, according to a new study published in the journal Women’s Health Issues.

Girls with a history of forced sex are also more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors like having multiple partners and using drugs or alcohol during their last sexual encounter, both of which boost the odds of contracting an STD.

But their likelihood of having an STD remains higher even after taking these risky behaviors into account, say Dawn Upchurch, Ph.D., and Yasamin Kusunoki, M.P.H., of the UCLA School of Public Health.

“Our results, along with those of other studies, suggest that there may be multiple and often enduring consequences of sexual violence against women,” Upchurch and Kusunoki say.

The researchers suggest that programs to reduce STDs among sexually active teen girls “would potentially benefit from also including a component that addresses sexual victimization.”

Upchurch and colleagues examined data from a 1994-1995 survey of 3,579 sexually active girls in the seventh through 12th grades. The girls were asked whether they had ever had an STD, how old they were the first time they had sexual intercourse, how many sexual partners they had had in their lifetime and whether they used drugs, alcohol or condoms during their last sexual intercourse.

The teens were also asked whether they had ever been “physically forced to have sexual intercourse against [their] will.” About 20 percent of the girls said that description applied to them.

One in five of the girls said they had their first sexual intercourse before age 14. Almost half of those surveyed said they used a condom during their last intercourse, 8 percent said they used drugs or alcohol during their last sexual encounter and 11 percent said they had a history of sexually transmitted disease.

Girls who had multiple partners, were younger than 14 at their first sexual intercourse or who used drugs or alcohol during their last intercourse were more likely to have had an STD, the researchers found.

The study was supported by the Jacobs Institute-Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical Research Scholar in Women’s Health Award and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

http://www.cfah.org

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