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Narrative Review: Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Homeless Youth—What Do We Know About Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevalence and Risk?
  • Published Date:
    Aug 2017
  • Source:
    Sex Transm Dis. 44(8):466-476.
Filetype[PDF-87.29 KB]


Details:
  • Keywords:
  • Pubmed ID:
    28703725
  • Pubmed Central ID:
    PMC5778439
  • Description:
    Background

    Homelessness affects an estimated 1.6 million US youth annually. Compared with housed youth, homeless youth are more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors, including inconsistent condom use, multiple sex partners, survival sex, and alcohol/drug use, putting them at increased sexually transmitted disease (STD) risk. However, there is no national estimate of STD prevalence among this population.

    Methods

    We identified 10 peer-reviewed articles (9 unique studies) reporting STD prevalence among homeless US youth (2000–2015). Descriptive and qualitative analyses identified STD prevalence ranges and risk factors among youth.

    Results

    Eight studies reported specific STD prevalence estimates, mainly chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. Overall STD prevalence among homeless youth ranged from 6% to 32%. STD rates for girls varied from 16.7% to 46%, and from 9% to 13.1% in boys. Most studies were conducted in the Western United States, with no studies from the Southeast or Northeast. Youths who experienced longer periods of homelessness were more likely to engage in high-risk sexual behaviors. Girls had lower rates of condom use and higher rates of STDs; boys were more likely to engage in anal and anonymous sex. Additionally, peer social networks contributed to protective effects on individual sexual risk behavior.

    Conclusions

    Sexually transmitted disease prevalence estimates among homeless youth fluctuated greatly by study. Sexually transmitted disease risk behaviors are associated with unmet survival needs, length of homelessness, and influence of social networks. To promote sexual health and reduce STD rates, we need better estimates of STD prevalence, more geographic diversity of studies, and interventions addressing the behavioral associations identified in our review.

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