Condomless Sex Among Homeless Youth: The Role of Multidimensional Social Norms and Gender

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Graduate School of Social Work


Most studies of condomless sex among homeless youth have focused on peer norms, while excluding other potentially pertinent influences. This study explored how different types of relationships contributed to norms about condomless sex and whether such norms were associated with engagement in condomless sex among homeless youth. Additionally, because recent work has noted gender differences in social networks of male and female homeless youth, gender differences in social network norms of condomless sex were also assessed. Egocentric network data were collected from homeless youth accessing services at two drop-in centers in Los Angeles, CA (N = 976). Multivariate analyses (non-stratified and stratified by gender) assessed associations between descriptive, injunctive, and communicative norms and participants’ engagement in condomless sex. Multivariate analyses indicated that perception of peer condom use and communication with sexual partners were significantly associated with not engaging in condomless sex. These relationships, however, varied by gender. Implications for interventions are discussed.

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