Online Program

HIV risk behaviors of gang involved homeless youth

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Robin Petering, MSW, 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
Introduction: Annual statistics estimate that there are 1.6 million homeless youths and 1.4 million active gang members in the US. Experiences of homelessness and gang membership are both known determinants of increased HIV risk. Yet, almost no empirical research has examined the intersection between these populations. Methods: Los Angeles area homeless youth (N=505) were asked a series of questions regarding recent drug use and sexual behaviors. Youth were asked if they identify as a gang member or if they are gang affiliated (i.e. have a relative, romantic partner or close friend who identified as a gang member). Multivariable logistic regressions controlling for age, race, gender, sexual orientation, current living situation and city of origin tested the overall effect of membership or affiliation compared to non-gang involved homeless youth. Results: Within the sample, 17% identified as a gang member and 46% identified as gang affiliated. For many risk behaviors, both gang members and gang affiliates were at greater risk compared to non-gang involved youth. Gang members and affiliates were more likely to report recent methamphetamine and cocaine use, and were more likely to report having sex while intoxicated. Conclusions: The results highlight that self-identifying as a gang member is just as risky as being closely affiliated with a gang member. Given the lack of knowledge on the intersection between youth homelessness and gang involvement, the results emphasize the need to prioritize future research in this field to inform policies and programs that can address the specific needs of this population.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Assess the relationship between HIV risk behaviors and gang-involvement for homeless youth. Identify the difference in risk of identifying as a gang member or a gang affiliate compared to non-gang involved homeless youth. Inform future research and intervention strategies for HIV prevention among gang-involved homeless youth

Keyword(s): Homelessness, HIV Risk Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to be an abstract author of this content as aI have been a research assistant on this large scale research project for 4 years now and I am a PhD candidate at a top-reasearch university.
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.