Online Program

Associations Between Exchange Sex and Substance Use among a sample of Homeless Youth in Los Angeles

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 9:30 a.m. - 9:50 a.m.

Catherine M. Branson, MPH, Community Health Sciences, UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Homeless youth are at high risk for HIV and other STDs. One sexual risk disproportionately reported by homeless youth is exchanging sex for money, food, drugs, or a place to stay.  Previous estimates of exchange sex among homeless youth have ranged widely from 3% to 43%, indicating that continued research on this practice is needed. This study investigated the associations between exchange sex and specific substance(s) used among 154 homeless youth recruited from a drop-in center in Los Angeles in 2009.  Twenty percent reported ever having traded sex, and more commonly exchanged sex for drugs (14%) than for money (12%) over the previous 30 days. Exchange sex was practiced equally by each gender and was significantly correlated with recent use of crack, amphetamines, cocaine, and heroin.  It was also significantly more common among youth who had ever injected drugs or who had ever been in foster care. Preliminary OLS regression results indicate that practicing exchange sex increased with age (p=.002) and with greater amphetamine use over the previous 30 days (p=.036). While information about the gender of the exchange partner was not collected, instances of exchange sex increased along with having more same sex partners (p=.004) only among males, which is consistent with previous research indicating that predominantly males engage in transactional sex with homeless youth. Harm reduction interventions targeting homeless youth should teach ways they can protect themselves from victimization and minimize sexual risk while engaging in exchange sex.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Identify the association between practicing exchange sex with use of specific drugs. Demonstrate the need for harm reduction interventions that address exchange sex among homeless youth.

Keyword(s): HIV Risk Behavior, Homelessness

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have 14 years of experience working with Los Angeles homeless populations to reduce the harms from HIV and substance abuse, as well as extensive theoretical and methodological training as a 4th year doctoral student in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.
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.