Scope of HIV Risk and Co-Occurring Psychosocial Health Problems Among Young Adults

Violence, Victimization, and Substance Use

Published in: Journal of Adolescent Health, v. 36, no. 5, May 2005, p. 401-409

by Phyllis L. Ellickson, Rebecca L. Collins, Laura M. Bogart, David J. Klein, Stephanie L. Taylor

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PURPOSE: This study examines the co-occurrence of sexual risk with violence, victimization, risky substance use, and drug-related problems among young adults. METHODS: Data were collected from 3392 young adults drawn from California and Oregon as youth, as part of the RAND adolescent panel study. Logistic regression analyses were used to test differences in psychosocial health problems for participants at high, moderate, and low sexual risk, overall, and by gender. RESULTS: Nearly 80% of young adults exhibited some degree of sexual risk. Both moderate (56%) and high (22%) HIV risks were associated with multiple forms of drug use, drug-related problems, violence and victimization. Males and females had similar relative risk profiles, but females reported higher rates of victimization in the form of partner abuse and sexual coercion. Over 80% of those at high sexual risk exhibited psychosocial health problems in at least 2 other areas. CONCLUSIONS: Sexual risk-taking is widespread among young adults and typically co-occurs with other psychosocial health problems. Interventions designed for young adults at high sexual risk should take into account their additional psychosocial problems; broad media campaigns may be useful for those at moderate risk.

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