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Sexually transmitted infections in suspected child sexual abuse
  1. Sarah Jane Driscoll1,
  2. Katy J Fidler1,2,
  3. Annalie Shears3,
  4. Jennifer Whetham4,5,
  5. Ann White5
  1. 1Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Brighton, UK
  2. 2Department of Academic Paediatrics, Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital, Brighton, UK
  3. 3Paediatrics, Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital, Brighton, UK
  4. 4Sexual Health and HIV, Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, Brighton, UK
  5. 5Sussex Children's Sexual Assault Referral Centre, Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust, Brighton, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ann White, Sussex Children's Sexual Assault Referral Centre, Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust, Brighton, UK; ann.white9{at}


Making associations between sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and child sexual abuse can be controversial. To contribute to the paucity of research in this field, this service evaluation aims to (1) define the prevalence of STIs in children aged 0–13 years seen at a regional Children’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre, (2) determine whether sexual transmission is the most likely mode of transmission for diagnosed STIs, (3) identify factors affecting application of STI screening and (4) assess follow-up. Methods consisted of retrospective analysis of an anonymous database for all patients seen between 1 July 2016 and 1 July 2019. Of 241 children seen, 114/241 (47.3%) received STI screening and 10/114 (8.8%) tested positive (4.1% of children seen overall). No asymptomatic child was diagnosed with an STI. Sexual transmission was the most likely mode of transmission based on child disclosure and physical examination findings for 6/10 children diagnosed with an STI.

  • Child Abuse
  • Communicable Diseases
  • HIV
  • Paediatrics

Statistics from


  • Contributors KJF and AW had the original idea. KJF wrote the initial research proposal. AW provided secure or anonymous access to the Children’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre database, relevant medical records and relevant named professionals in the region. SJD collected the data, analysed it and drafted the initial manuscript. JW provided expert opinion on sexual health. AS and KJF completed the regional general practitioner survey included in the discussion.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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