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Homeless Youth More Likely To Engage In Risky Sex

Armen Hareyan's picture

Youth who recently have become homeless are more likely than otheryouth to engage in risky sexual behavior that can lead to thetransmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections,according to a study published in the Jan. 3 online edition of theJournal of Adolescent Health, ANI/DailyIndia reports.

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For the study, researchers at theUniversity of California-Los Angeles AIDSInstitute -- led by M. Rosa Solorio, assistant professor offamily medicine at the DavidGeffen School of Medicine at UCLA -- identified 261 youth ages 12to 20 in Los Angeles County. The youth had been homeless for a periodof one day to six months, and the researchers tracked them for twoyears. The youth were interviewed at the beginning of the study andat three, six, 12, 18 and 24 months after the study began aboutsymptoms of depression, substance abuse, living arrangements, numberof sexual partners and condom use.

According to the study, 77%of the youth were sexually active at the beginning of the study,compared with 85% at the end of the study. According to the study,female participants were less likely to use condoms if they wereliving in nonfamily situations or abused drugs. Drug abuse was foundto be the primary indicator of risky sexual behavior among femaleparticipants, and male participants who lived without their familymembers or who abused drugs were more likely to have multiple sexpartners, the study found. The study also found that U.S. orforeign-born Hispanic female participants were less likely to havemultiple sex partners than female participants of other groups.

"While gender and some racial/ethnic differences inpredictors of sexual risk were found in this study, living withnonfamily members and drug use appear to be the most salient inexplaining sexual risk," according to the authors. The authorsadded that "interventions aimed at reducing sexual riskbehaviors, and thereby reducing [STIs] and HIV among newly homelessyouth, need to help youth find housing associated with supervisionand social support ... as well as aim to reduce drug use."Solorio said that the study's findings are "important"because previous interventions "have focused on addressingindividual risk behavior and not on addressing structural factors,such as living situations that might have an impact" on riskysexual behavior (ANI/Daily India, 1/7).

Reprinted with permission fromkaisernetwork.org.You can view the entire KaiserDaily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and signup for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is publishedfor kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser FamilyFoundation.