Substance Use and Other Risk Factors for Unprotected Sex

Results from an Event-Based Study of Homeless Youth

Published in: AIDS and Behavior, v. 16, no. 6, Aug. 2012, p. 1699-1707

Posted on RAND.org on July 31, 2012

by Joan S. Tucker, Gery W. Ryan, Daniela Golinelli, Brett Ewing, Suzanne L. Wenzel, David P. Kennedy, Harold D. Green, Annie Jie Zhou

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This study used an event-based approach to understand condom use in a probability sample of 309 homeless youth recruited from service and street sites in Los Angeles County. Condom use was significantly less likely when hard drug use preceded sex, the relationship was serious, the partners talked about "pulling out", or sex occurred in a non-private place (and marginally less likely when heavier drinking preceded sex, or the partnership was monogamous or abusive). Condom use was significantly more likely when the youth held positive condom attitudes or were concerned about pregnancy, the partners talked about condom use, and the partners met up by chance. This study extends previous work by simultaneously examining a broad range of individual, relationship, and contextual factors that may play a role in condom use. Results identify a number of actionable targets for programs aimed at reducing HIV/STI transmission and pregnancy risk among homeless youth.

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