, Volume 90, Issue 4, pp 717-728
Date: 20 Jul 2012

Adolescent Criminal Justice Involvement and Adulthood Sexually Transmitted Infection in a Nationally Representative US Sample

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Criminal justice involvement (CJI) disrupts social and sexual networks, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) thrive on network disruption. Adolescent CJI may be a particularly important determinant of STI because experiences during adolescence influence risk trajectories into adulthood. We used Wave III (2001–2002: young adulthood) of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (N = 14,322) to estimate associations between history of adolescent (younger than 18 years) CJI and adult STI risk. Respondents who reported a history of repeat arrest in adolescence, adolescent conviction, and arrest both as an adolescent and an adult (persistent arrest) had between two to seven times the odds of STI (biologically confirmed infection with chlamydia, gonorrhea, or trichomoniasis) in adulthood and between two to three times the odds of multiple partnerships and inconsistent condom use in the past year in adulthood. In analyses adjusting for sociodemographic and behavioral factors, history of having six or more adolescent arrests was associated with more than five times the odds of STI (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 5.44, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 1.74–17.1). Both adolescent conviction and persistent CJI appeared to remain independent correlates of STI (conviction: AOR 1.90, 95 % CI 1.02–3.55; persistent CJI: AOR 1.60, 95 % CI 0.99–2.57). Adolescents who have repeat arrests, juvenile convictions, and persist as offenders into adulthood constitute priority populations for STI treatment and prevention. The disruptive effect of adolescent CJI may contribute to a trajectory associated with STI in adulthood.