(July 2, 2020) Santa Maria D, Daundasekara SS, Hernandez DC, Zhang W, Narendorf SC (2020) Sexual risk classes among youth experiencing homelessness: Relation to childhood adversities, current mental symptoms, substance use, and HIV testing. PLoS ONE 15(1): e0227331. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0227331
The aim of this study was to determine whether there are meaningful subgroups with different types of sexual risk behaviors among youth experiencing homelessness and examine the associations between potential classes and other risk variables. A latent class analysis was used to identify classes of youth according to sexual risk behaviors and sexual assault. A two-class solution was found to be the best fit for the data–Lower and Higher Risk groups. The Higher Risk class had significantly higher levels of synthetic marijuana and alcohol use, mental health diagnoses, and were more likely to have been tested for HIV than the Lower Risk group. Youth were more likely to be in the Higher Risk group if they were cisgender female or lesbian, gay, bisexual, or questioning (LGBQ). Nearly all youth (10/11) who reported having HIV infection were in the Higher Risk group. The Lower Risk group were sexually active but had lower rates of risk behaviors and sexual assault. Youth who were not sexually active had the lowest rates of marijuana and alcohol use as well as HIV testing. Health and social service providers should be aware of the added risks for stress, mental distress, mental health diagnoses, and substance use among youth who also report higher risk sexual behaviors and treat as needed.