214052 Internet Use and HIV/AIDS Risk among High Risk Adolescents: The Case of Homeless Youth

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 9:00 AM - 9:15 AM

Eric Rice, PhD , School of Social Work, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Objective: To assess the impact of internet use and access to social networking technology on the sexual health of a sample of homeless adolescents at high risk for contracting HIV. Methods: 201 service-seeking, homeless adolescents were surveyed in 2009 regarding internet use, means of accessing the internet, and with whom adolescents connected via social networking technology. Multivariate logistic regression models assessed how patterns of use impacted engaging in exchange sex (sex for money, drugs, or other resources), recent HIV testing, sexual health information seeking, and online partner seeking behaviors. Results: 96.5% of homeless youth reported internet use, while only 24% reported being online more than 1 hour per day. Most youth accessed the internet at public libraries or youth service agencies. Most youth used the internet and social networking websites to connect to family and home-based peers. 50% of youth used the internet to learn about HIV and 25% to find a sex partner. Youth practicing exchange sex were 18 times more likely to seek online sex partners. Youth who connected to family members were less likely to practice exchange sex and more likely to report a recent HIV test. Youth who communicated with street-based peers were more likely to practice exchange sex, while youth who connected to home-based peers were more likely to report a recent HIV test. Conclusions: Online access has a positive impact on many homeless youth by facilitating their connections to family and home-based peers. Conversely, for a minority, exchange sex is facilitated by internet access.

Learning Areas:
Chronic disease management and prevention
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the prevalence of internet and social network technology use among homeless youth. To asses how such use impact HIV/AIDS risk behaviors.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, Homeless

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I teach and research HIV/AIDS prevention among adolescents.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.