141st APHA Annual Meeting

In This section

Homeless youths' use of the internet for HIV information and testing locations

Monday, November 4, 2013

Anamika Barman-Adhikari, MA, MSW, PhD Student , School of Social Work, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Eric Rice, PhD , School of Social Work, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Robin Petering, MSW , University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Hailey Winetrobe, MPH, CHES , School of Social Work, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Harmony Rhoades, PhD , School of Social Work, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Introduction: Social-capital theory suggests that Internet and Social Media (ISM) might be avenues through which homeless-youth can bolster their otherwise limited access to resources, information, and non-street relationships (e.g. family, caseworkers, and prosocial peers). The first goal of this study is to determine if youth in different social-service contexts (i.e., Hollywood versus Santa-Monica) show different rates of using the internet for HIV-information and testing location seeking. The second goal is to determine if such differences are related to demography, internet-access, and/or social-capital in these two homeless-youth populations.

Methods: Los-Angeles area homeless-youth ages 14-27 years (N=380) were recruited from two drop-in centers (Santa-Monica & Hollywood). Participants were asked to complete a computerized self-administered questionnaire. Analyses include descriptive-statistics and multivariate logistic-regressions.

Results: Compared to their Santa-Monica peers, more Hollywood homeless-youth reported looking for information about HIV/AIDS(42% vs. 31%) and finding an HIV-testing location online (28% vs. 18%, p<0.05). In multivariate logistic regression models, site differences were no longer significant, however differences in access to online social capital was associated with seeking HIV testing and HIV information online. Specifically, youth who used email and/or social networking websites to communicate with caseworkers or agency-staff were 2.7 times more likely to report seeking HIV information online, and 2.5 times more likely to report seeking an HIV testing location online.

Conclusions: These findings illustrate the need for increased internet access for homeless youth. Agency staff may also consider utilizing email and social networking websites to communicate with their clients to facilitate HIV testing and information seeking.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Compare how homeless youth use the internet and social media within two different service contexts in Los Angeles, California. Discuss how internet and social media can serve as resources for homeless youth. Discuss how the findings can be used by program providers and policymakers when planning for services for this population.

Keywords: Access and Services, Homelessness

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a PhD candidate in the School of Social Work at University of Southern California, Los Angeles. My research interests are broadly centered on understanding the social-contextual determinants of risk behaviors among vulnerable youth populations such as homeless and minority youth. The goal of my research is to create prevention interventions that acknowledge these contextual-environments and utilize social-network methodology to determine how these new ideas can be disseminated using a “community-based participatory research approach”.
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.