Housing Status and Associated Differences in HIV Risk Behaviors Among Young Injection Drug Users (IDUs)
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Using cross-sectional analysis we examined residential status and associated differences in HIV risk behaviors among 3266 young IDUs enrolled in an HIV prevention trial. A three-level outcome (homeless (37%), equivocally housed (17%), housed (46%)) was defined based on responses to two questions assessing subjective and objective criteria for homelessness: “equivocally housed” participants were discordant on these measures. In multivariate analysis, antecedents of homelessness were having lived in an out-of-home placement, been thrown out of the home or in juvenile detention, and experienced childhood abuse; while correlates included receiving income from other and illegal sources, drinking alcohol or using methamphetamine at least daily, using shooting galleries, backloading, and sex work. A subset of these variables was associated with being equivocally housed. HIV risk varies by housing status, with homeless IDUs at highest risk. Programs for IDUs should utilize a more specific definition of residential status to target IDUs needing intervention.