But Everyone is Doing It (Sort of)! Perceived Sexual Risks in the Social Environment and the Impact on Homeless Youth Engagement in Concurrent Sexual Relationships

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Graduate School of Social Work


Although homeless youth are likely to engage in concurrent sexual relationships and doing so can accelerate HIV transmission, the issue of sexual concurrency (i.e., having sexual partnerships that overlap in time) has received scarce attention in this vulnerable population. The literature that exists tends to focus on individuals’ characteristics that may be associated with concurrency and overlooks the influence of their social environment. Informed by the risk amplification and abatement model (RAAM), this study explored the association between pro-social and problematic social network connections, and sexual concurrency among homeless youth using drop-in center services (N = 841). Nearly 37% of youth engaged in concurrency. Partially consistent with the RAAM, regression analyses showed that affiliation with more problematic ties (i.e., having more network members who practice concurrency and unprotected sex) was associated with greater sexual concurrency. Programs addressing HIV risk among homeless youth in drop-in centers should consider the role youths’ network composition may play in concurrency.

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