Traumatic events (TEs) in early life can precede adult psychopathology. Limited research exists on this relationship in young adults with perinatally-acquired HIV-infection (PHIV) or perinatal HIV-exposure without infection (PHEU), who often experience social and health disparities. This study examined TEs experienced in childhood/adolescence and their association with psychiatric and substance use disorders in young adults with PHIV and PHEU.
Participants in a New York City-based longitudinal cohort study were assessed for TE exposure at enrollment (mean age=12 years) and the first two follow-up interviews. Past-year psychiatric and substance use disorders were evaluated via psychiatric interview (DISC-IV) at the fifth follow-up interview (mean age=22 years). Unadjusted and adjusted logistic regression models assessed associations between cumulative childhood/adolescence TEs and young adult psychiatric and substance use outcomes. Group differences were tested for PHIV and PHEU subgroups.
Among 236 participants (60% Black, 51% Latinx), mean CTE count was 3.09 (SD=1.77); 26% had a past-year psychiatric diagnosis, and 28% a past-year substance use diagnosis. Increased TEs were associated with past-year psychiatric diagnoses in young adulthood (AME 4.21, 95% CI [0.83,7.58]); for PHEU participants, increased TEs were associated with past-year substance use disorder (AME 15.67, 95% CI [8.08, 23.25]).
High levels of TEs in childhood/adolescence may contribute to psychiatric and substance use disorders in young adults with PHIV or PHEU. Research exploring relationships between TE exposure and later psychiatric problems is needed to inform interventions for HIV-affected youth.