Risky Sex, Drug Behaviors Persist in Young People after HIV Counseling

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- The findings of a large survey reinforce the ongoing prevalence of risky sexual and substance abuse behavior among young people that could promote the spread of HIV infection, Angulique W. Outlaw, Ph.D., said in a poster at the Ryan White CARE Act meeting on HIV treatment.

To investigate the prevalence of risky behaviors and teens' and young adults' attitudes toward HIV, Dr. Outlaw of the Children's Hospital of Michigan, in Detroit, and her colleagues surveyed 751 adolescents and young adults aged 13-24 years, who received HIV counseling and testing in community-based venues. These included field locations such as parks and public events (38%), health clinics (24%), detention facilities (23%), and community drop-in centers (15%).

Overall, 12% of the respondents identified themselves as men who have sex with men (MSM) exclusively, 5% were men who have sex with men or women, 28% were high-risk heterosexuals, 54% were moderate- or low-risk heterosexuals, and 1% were "other."

The number of respondents who defined themselves as MSM exclusively was higher than expected, Dr. Outlaw said in an interview.

A total of 82% of the respondents reported having sex without using a condom, and 23% reported having a sexually transmitted disease (chlamydia or gonorrhea) within the past 90 days.

In addition, 58% reported any alcohol use during the past year, 46% reported using marijuana during the past year, and 43% reported having sex in conjunction with alcohol or drug use.

Females were significantly less likely to use condoms compared with males, and they also had a significantly higher incidence of STDs. …