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Medical News

Arrest History as an Indicator of Adolescent/Young Adult Substance Use and HIV Risk

March 30, 2007

"Juvenile offenders are particularly at risk for HIV because of their substantially high rates of risk behaviors, high rates of substance use disorders and psychopathology," the authors began.

Unlike studies focusing on the risk behaviors of incarcerated youths, the current study sought to determine whether an arrest history could serve as a marker for HIV risk and substance abuse in a community-based sample of high-risk adolescents and young adults.

The subjects of the study were 1,400 adolescents who took part in a large multi-site HIV prevention program in Georgia, Florida and Rhode Island; this provided baseline data on sexual risk, substance use, attitudes and mental health history. The mean age of participants was 18. Based on self-reports, subjects were classified as arrestees (404) or non-arrestees (996).

Alcohol and drug use, substance use during sex, unprotected sex, STD diagnoses, suicide attempts and psychiatric hospitalizations were all reported more often by arrestees than non-arrestees.

"Having an arrest history may serve as a marker for adolescent HIV risk and substance abuse," the authors wrote. "Effectively screening adolescents for legal history and responding to the psychosocial and health needs of these high-risk adolescents could increase necessary engagement in substance use and mental health treatment, reduce HIV risk in the community, and reduce costs to the legal, medical and mental health systems."

Back to other news for March 30, 2007

Adapted from:
Drug and Alcohol Dependence
04.17.2007; Vol. 88; No. 1: P. 87-90; Marina Toulou-Shams; Larry K. Brown; Glenn Gordon; Isabel Fernandez; Project SHIELD Study Group

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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