Testing and testing positive: childhood adversities and later life HIV status among Kenyan women and their partners

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Abstract

Background

Adverse childhood experiences are a critical feature of lifelong health. No research assesses whether childhood adversities predict HIV-testing behaviors, and little research analyzes childhood adversities and later life HIV status in sub-Saharan Africa.

Methods

We use regression models with cross-sectional data from a representative sample (n = 1974) to analyze whether adverse childhood experiences, separately or as cumulative exposures, predict reports of later life HIV testing and testing HIV+ among semi-rural Kenyan women and their partners.

Results

No significant correlation was observed between thirteen cumulative childhood adversities and reporting prior HIV testing for respondent or partner. Separately, childhood sexual abuse and emotional neglect predicted lower odds of reporting having previously been tested for HIV. Witnessing household violence during one's childhood predicted significantly higher odds of reporting HIV+. Sexual abuse predicted higher odds of reporting a partner tested HIV+.

Conclusions

Preventing sexual abuse and household violence may improve HIV testing and test outcomes among Kenyan women. More research is required to understand pathways between adverse childhood experiences and partner selection within Kenya and sub-Saharan Africa, and data presented here suggest understanding pathways may help improve HIV outcomes.

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