Previous research has suggested that sexually aggressive behavior and sexual HIV risk behavior are associated. Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) is a well-established risk factor for both types of problematic sexual behavior. Negative affect (i.e., anxiety, depression, and anger) is a less well-studied risk factor, but it has been theorized to relate to both sexual aggression and HIV risk behavior. Thus, this study sought to (1) confirm the relationship between sexual aggression and HIV risk behavior, (2) establish CSA and negative affect as shared risk factors for sexual aggression and HIV risk behavior, and (3) evaluate whether negative affect mediates the relationship between CSA and sexual aggression and between CSA and HIV sexual risk in a sample of heterosexual men. We recruited 18- to 30-year-old heterosexual men (N = 377) from urban sexually transmitted infection clinics. Men completed measures of sexual HIV risk history (number of partners and condom use), sexual aggression history, CSA history, and trait negative affect (anger, anxiety, and depression). Structural equation modeling was used to examine hypothesized direct and indirect relationships. In the final SEM model, sexual aggression history and sexual HIV risk behavior were correlated. CSA was associated with both types of problematic sexual behavior. Anxiety significantly mediated the relationship between CSA and sexual aggression and between CSA and sexual HIV risk behavior (χ2 = 2121.79, p < .001; CFI = 0.905; RMSEA [90% CI] = .044 [.041–.047]). Sexual aggression appears to be part of a constellation of sexual risk behaviors; thus, it may be possible to develop prevention programs that target both sexual HIV risk and sexual aggression. CSA is a shared risk factor for sexual aggression and HIV risk behavior through the pathway of anxiety. Thus, anxiety might be one promising target for intervention.
- Child sexual abuse
- Sexual aggression
- Sexual coercion
- Sexually transmitted infections
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)