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

*Corresponding author for this work

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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