Unprotected Sex of Homeless Youth

Results from a Multilevel Analysis of Individual, Social Network, and Relationship Factors

Published in: AIDS and Behavior, v. 16, no. 7, Oct. 2012 p. 2015-2032

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2012

by David P. Kennedy, Joan S. Tucker, Harold D. Green, Daniela Golinelli, Brett Ewing

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Homeless youth have elevated risk of HIV through sexual behavior. This project investigates the multiple levels of influence on unprotected sex among homeless youth, including social network, individual, and partner level influences. Findings are based on analyses of an exploratory, semi-structured interview (n = 40) and a structured personal network interview (n = 240) with randomly selected homeless youth in Los Angeles. Previous social network studies of risky sex by homeless youth have collected limited social network data from non-random samples and have not distinguished sex partner influences from other network influences. The present analyses have identified significant associations with unprotected sex at multiple levels, including individual, partner, and, to a lesser extent, the social network. Analyses also distinguished between youth who did or did not want to use condoms when they had unprotected sex. Implications for social network based HIV risk interventions with homeless youth are discussed.

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