Individual and Social Network Correlates of Sexual Health Communication among Youth Experiencing Homelessness

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Graduate School of Social Work


Despite the potential for sexual health communication to be leveraged for HIV prevention among youth experiencing homelessness (YEH), there has yet to be a rigorous examination of individual and network or relational characteristics associated with sexual health communication in this group of young people. Cross-sectional survey and social network data from 1014 YEH aged 14–25 recruited in Los Angeles, California, were utilized to assess individual and network or relational characteristics associated with communication regarding condom use and HIV testing among YEH. Results suggest that social networks are key to understanding sexual health communication; YEH’s engagement in sexual health communication was significantly related to the composition of their networks. To increase testing and decrease new HIV cases, a prudent strategy would be to train existing social network members (e.g., staff members, home-based peers, or partners) as agents of change in naturally occurring social networks of YEH.

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