Sexual assault was the sixth leading cause of non-fatal injury in the United States (US) in 2007 (Department Of Justice, 2008). There were approximately a quarter of a million sexual assault victims in 2007 (DOJ, 2008). This public health concern coexists and in fact may feed another epidemic: that of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Autoimmune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). The same group of young men and women (age 18–25) most at risk for sexual assault are also the fastest growing groups contracting HIV (El-Bassel, Cadeira, Ruglass & Gilbert, 2009; Greenwood et al., 2002; Petroll, Hare & Pinkerton, 2008). Sexual contact remains a major contributor to the spread of HIV transmission.
Risk of transmission is a product of the risk that the source person is HIV positive and the risk associated with a particular exposure (Fisher et al., 2006). Sexual transmission per any consensual sexual contact has been estimated between 0.1% and 3%, with higher transmission corresponding to receptive anal intercourse (DeGruttola, Seage, Mayer & Horsburgh, 1989; Gray et al., 2001). This article will explore the unique ways in which sexual assault may increase the likelihood of HIV transmission.