239467 HIV Prevention in Large Networks of Homeless Youth

Monday, October 31, 2011: 8:50 AM

Eric Rice, PhD , School of Social Work, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Objectives: Public health has become very interested in how social network ties impact health behaviors. Several studies have demonstrated that persons engage in behaviors like those of their network ties. The status or position of these behavioral clusters, however, has largely been ignored. To add to the body of evidence supporting the relationship between social network structures and health, this study examined interconnections among a sample of runaway and homeless youth (RHY) and how position in the larger, aggregated network structure was associated with HIV risk. Methods: Individual and social network data were collected from a sample of 136 RHY. A sociomatrix was generated based on youth nominating other youth in the sample. Network visualization was accomplished with a “spring embedder,” and k-cores were examined. Multivariate logistic regression models assessed associations between peripheral and non-peripheral network position and recent unprotected sex. Results: Small numbers of nominations at the individual level aggregated into a large social network with a visible core, periphery (including isolates), and small clusters. Youth who had been homeless for less than two years were more likely to belong to the periphery of the network (OR=3.6, p<.01) and youth at the periphery of the network were less likely to report unprotected sex (OR = 0.45, p<.05). Conclusions: Not only was HIV risk a function of risk-taking youth being connected to other risk-taking youth, but also where youth were located in the overall structure of the network. We provide suggestions for effective social network-based prevention programs for homeless youth.

Learning Areas:
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
To identify high risk regions in homeless youth social networks. To recommend possible directions in network-based HIV prevention interventions and resources for homeless youth.

Keywords: Homelessness, HIV Risk Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a professor in a school of social work and I oversee the design and implementation of research related to disease prevention.
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.

See more of: Housing, Homelessness, & HIV/AIDS
See more of: HIV/AIDS