, Volume 81, Issue 4, pp 584-595

Predictors of initiation into prostitution among female street youths

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Prostitution among female street youths represents an important risk factor for several health problems. Little is known about the incidence and determinants of prostitution in this vulnerable population, and no data have been previously reported based on a longitudinal follow-up study. The objective of this study was to determine predictors of initiation into prostitution among female street youths. Female youths aged 14 to 25 years were enrolled in the Montreal Street Youth Cohort. They completed a baseline and at least one follow-up questionnaire between January 1995 and March 2000. Girls who reported never having engaged in prostitution at baseline were followed prospectively to estimate the incidence and predictors of prostitution. Of the 330 female street youths enrolled as of September 2000 in the cohort, 148 reported no history of involvement in prostitution at baseline and completed at least one follow-up questionnaire. Of these 148 girls, 33 became involved in prostitution over the course of the study (mean follow-up 2.4 years), resulting in an incidence rate of 11.1/100 person-years. Multivariate Cox regression analysis revealed having a female sex partner (adjusted hazard ratio [AHR] 3.8; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.6–9.1) was an independent predictor of initiation into prostitution after controlling for having been on the street at age 15 years or younger (AHR 1.8, 95% CI 0.9–3.8), using acid or phecyclidine (PCP; AHR 2.0, 95% CI 0.9–4.6), using heroin (AHR 1.9, 95% CI 0.7–5.5), the use of drugs greater than twice perweek (AHR 1.9, 95% CI 0.9–4.2), and injection drug use (AHR 0.8, 95% CI 0.3–2.4). The incidence of prostitution in female street youths was elevated. Having a female sex partner was a strong predictor of initiating involvement in prostitution.