Sexual Risk Among Impoverished Women

Understanding the Role of Housing Status

Published In: AIDS and Behavior, v. 11, Suppl. 2, Nov. 2007, p. S9-S20

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2007

by Suzanne L. Wenzel, Joan S. Tucker, Marc N. Elliott, Katrin Hambarsoomian

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HIV/AIDS increasingly affects women, and housing status is important to understanding HIV risk behaviors among women. The goal of this study is to enhance understanding of the association between housing status and a key sexual risk behavior, having multiple sex partners, by investigating the extent to which housing status differences can be accounted for by hypothesized explanatory factors. In a probability sample of 833 women in Los Angeles, results indicated that homeless African American and Hispanic women had from two to almost five times greater odds than low-income housed women of having multiple sex partners in the past 6 months. These disparities in risk behavior were accounted for by housing status differences in perceived susceptibility to HIV/AIDS, recent victimization by physical violence, drug use severity, and avoidant coping. Findings provide further evidence that interventions should address a multifaceted context of HIV risk for impoverished women.

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