Date of this Version
Background — The study examined whether engaging in drug and sexual risk behaviors with social network and non-network members (strangers) differentially affected the decision to test for sexually transmissible infections (STIs) and HIV.
Methods — A cross-sectional survey was conducted among 249 homeless youths aged 14–21 years.
Results — Multivariate analyses revealed that females were over three times more likely than males to test for STIs (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 3.34; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.54–7.25). For every one unit increase in age, there was a 37% increase in the likelihood of having tested for STIs (AOR = 1.37; 95% CI = 1.12–1.68). Youths who had sex after using alcohol and drugs with strangers were approximately 3.5 times more likely to have tested for STIs (AOR = 3.45; 95% CI = 1.38–8.61). For every one unit increase in age, there was a 26% increase in the likelihood of having tested for HIV (AOR = 1.26; 95% CI = 1.05–1.51). Youths who had sex with a stranger after using alcohol or drugs were over three times more likely to test for HIV (AOR = 3.22; 95% CI = 1.42–7.31). No social network variables reached significance for STI or HIV testing.
Conclusions — Being older and engaging in drug and sexual risk behaviors with strangers are important correlates of STI and HIV testing. Females are more likely than males to be tested for STIs. Engaging in risky behaviors with social network members was not a key factor in deciding whether to be tested.