Victimization in Early Adolescence, Stress, and Depressive Symptoms among Aging Sexual Minority Men: Findings from the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study

Pamela J. Surkan, Ruibin Wang, Yuru Huang, Ron Stall, Michael Plankey, Linda A. Teplin, Richard G. Wight, Lisa P. Jacobson, Alison G. Abraham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: We investigated the relation between adversities in early adolescence and risk of a depressive phenotype in adulthood, and whether stress in adulthood modified these associations. Methods: A total of 1138 men who have sex with men (MSM) participated in a Multicenter AIDS Cohort substudy in which they reported on adversities in early adolescence. Poisson regression estimated prevalence ratios (PRs) for associations between adversities and a depressive phenotype in adulthood. Stratified analyses examined the effects of stress in the last year on the depressive phenotype. Results: In adjusted models, men who were verbally insulted; threatened by physical violence; had an object thrown at them; or punched, kicked, or beaten were at higher risk of having a depressive phenotype in adulthood (for ≥1 time per month vs. never, PR = 1.50, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.15-1.96; PR = 1.84, 95% CI = 1.45-2.34; PR = 2.00, 95% CI = 1.51-2.66; or PR = 1.78, 95% CI = 1.35-2.34, respectively.) Being threatened with a weapon approached statistical significance (PR = 1.89, 95% CI = 0.96-3.72). Although higher stress was associated with depression overall, early adolescent victimization was only associated with depression among MSM not reporting high levels of stress in the last year (for ≥1 time per month vs. never, PR = 1.68, 95% CI = 1.09-2.59; PR = 2.11, 95% CI = 1.40-3.17; PR = 2.24, 95% CI = 1.24-4.03; PR = 1.98, 95% CI = 1.22-3.22, respectively). Conclusion: The attenuation of relationships between adversities and depression among men reporting high stress may suggest that adult stress overshadows long-term effects of early adolescent victimization on adult depression. Victimization in early adolescence may increase the risk of sustained depressive symptoms in mid- to later life, reinforcing the need for preventive strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)155-165
Number of pages11
JournalLGBT health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2020


  • HIV
  • MSM
  • depression
  • early adolescence
  • stress victimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Urology


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