132 Annual Meeting Logo - Go to APHA Meeting Page  
APHA Logo - Go to APHA Home Page

Investigating the impact of public systems on the health behaviors of young injection drug users in Los Angeles County

Elvin A. Hernandez, DrPHc, MPH, CHES, Department of Health Promotion and Education, SPH, Loma Linda University, 10970 Parkland St., Loma Linda, CA 92350, 909-558-7194, ehernandez04p@sph.llu.edu, Susanne B. Montgomery, PhD, MPH, School of Public Health, Department of Health Promotion and Education, Evaluation Research Unit, Loma Linda University, 10970 Parkland Avenue, Loma Linda, CA 92350, Jerry W. Lee, PhD, Dept. of Health Promotion and Education, Loma Linda University School of Public Health, Nicol Hall Room 1511, Loma Linda, CA 92350, Mark Ghamsary, MS, PhD, Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, Loma Linda University, Nichol Hall, Hill Drive, Loma Linda, CA 92354, and Michele D. Kipke, PhD, Department of Pediatrics, Childrenís Hospital of Los Angeles, 4650 Sunset Blvd., MS #30, Los Angeles, CA 90027.

Adolescent injecting drug users (IDUs) are a vulnerable and hard-to-reach population. The economic, social, and environmental backgrounds of these individuals may a play significant role in influencing their health behaviors. In addition to background variables shown to be important to our understanding of IDU risk, we plan to investigate the role of participating in public systems such as foster care, juvenile detention, or public assistance. Responses from 320 youth/young adults from Los Angeles County who participated in a social network study (Project SNAP) of young injecting women were analyzed to explore the potential role of the respondentís experiences with these systems. The relative strength of these and other background factors was compared to the effects current social network members had. Most males (81.9%) and females (80.2%) in the study injected heroin in the recent past. Male (23.9%) and female (55.9%) respondents reported high rates of sexual abuse. Almost half of the males (51.1%) and 33% of females had spent time in juvenile hall. Additionally, 22.3% of males and 27.8% of females reported a history of living in foster care. Approximately 40% of males and 31% of females reported that their family of origin received public assistance. Networks for females were tighter and more overlapping and corresponded to their involvement in HIV risk behaviors. Examining how participation in public systems influences later health behaviors may encourage practitioners and policy makers to develop policies that more proactively address the long term social and emotional sequelae of participation in these systems.

Learning Objectives:

  • At the conclusion of the session, participants will be able to

    Presenting author's disclosure statement:
    I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

    Hot topics in Health Promotion

    The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA