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Study: Homeless
Youth More Likely to Engage in Risky Sexual
Behavior

Study: Homeless
Youth More Likely to Engage in Risky Sexual
Behavior

In a new study released by the UCLA AIDS Institute, youth who have been homeless for period between one day and six months are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior while in nonfamily settings (e.g. a friend's home, abandoned buildings, or the street).

In a new study released by the UCLA AIDS Institute, youth who have been homeless for period between one day and six months are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior while in nonfamily settings (e.g. a friend's home, abandoned buildings, or the street).

In this, the first study directed solely at newly homeless youth, the researchers reviewed such factors as socio-demographics, depression, and substance abuse, coupled with structural factors such as living situations and their influence on sexual behavior.

According to researcher, Enrique Rivero, the study tracked behavioral changes in 261 newly homeless youth in Los Angeles County between the ages of 12 and 20 over a two-year period. Subjects were interviewed six times at the beginning, and after three, six, 12, 18, and 24 months about depression, substance use, living situations, number of sexual partners, and condom use.

The study specifically focused on how behavior and living situations worked together. "When we look at homeless youth, we want to consider these structural factors if we want them to reduce their risky behavior and thereby prevent sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV," M. Rosa Solorio, lead author of the study and an assistant professor at UCLA, said in the press release.

Here's a breakdown of the findings:

* At the beginning, 77% claimed sexual activity. After two years, it increased to 85%. * Males were more sexually active than females. * Males had multiple sex partners if they lived in nonfamily settings and/or abused drugs. * In males, neither nonfamily living settings or drug abuse predicted condom use. * Drug abuse in females was the primary predictor of risky sexual behavior. * Females were less likely to use condoms and/or abuse drugs while in nonfamily settings. * Hispanic females were the least likely race or ethnicity to have multiple partners.

"While gender and some racial/ethnic differences in predictors of sexual risk were found in this study, living with nonfamily members and drug use appear to be the most salient in explaining sexual risk," the researchers wrote. "Our findings indicate that interventions aimed at reducing sexual risk behaviors, and thereby reducing [sexually transmitted diseases] and HIV among newly homeless youth, need to help youth find housing associated with supervision and social support (family and institutional settings) as well as aim to reduce drug use." (The Advocate)

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