If You Provide the Test, They Will Take It

Factors Associated with HIV/STI Testing in a Representative Sample of Homeless Youth in Los Angeles

Published In: AIDS Education and Prevention, v. 24, no. 4, Aug. 2012, p. 350-362

Posted on RAND.org on August 01, 2012

by Allison J. Ober, Steven C. Martino, Brett Ewing, Joan S. Tucker

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Research Questions

  1. Which homeless youth are most likely to have HIV/STI testing?
  2. Are high-risk youth who use drop-in centers more likely to test for HIV/STI?

Homeless youth are at high risk for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other sexually transmitted infections (STI), yet those at greatest risk may never have been tested for HIV or STI. In a probability sample of sexually active homeless youth in Los Angeles (n = 305), this study identifies factors associated with HIV/STI testing status. Most youth (85%) had ever been tested and 47% had been tested in the past 3 months. Recent testing was significantly more likely among youth who self-identified as gay, were Hispanic, injected drugs, and used drop-in centers, and marginally more likely among youth with more depressive symptoms. Drop-in center use mediated the association of injection drug use with HIV/STI testing. HIV/STI testing was unrelated to sexual risk behavior. Drop-in centers can play an important role in facilitating testing, including among injection drug users, but more outreach is needed to encourage testing in other at-risk subgroups.

Key Findings

  • Drop-in centers can play an important role in facilitating testing among homeless youth, including injection drug users.
  • More outreach is needed to encourage testing in other at-risk subgroups.

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