The Nation

The victims of child sexual abuse are at risk of contracting AIDS but a "strange conspiracy of silence" has kept the problem out of the national spotlight, a nationwide study said. Compiled by the National Coalition for Children's Justice and scheduled to be released today in Shelburne, Vt., the survey said the number of sex abuse cases reported to state social service agencies jumped to 216,216 in 1986 from 1,741 in 1975. The study documents numerous abuse-related lawsuits aimed at organizations like the Roman Catholic Church, the YMCA and the U.S. military, and warns of a potential liability crisis among religious and civic groups. Kenneth Wooden, the study's author, said the upswing in reported child sexual abuse cases coincides with the advent of the AIDS epidemic, but the scientific community has not addressed "the high risk of AIDS among molested children."

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