Methamphetamine Use and High-Risk Sexual Behaviors among Incarcerated Female Adolescents with a Diagnosed STD
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Juvenile detention settings provide an important venue for addressing the health-related needs of adolescent populations, who often have high rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and concomitant drug use. This study examines factors associated with methamphetamine use and risky sexual behaviors among 539 incarcerated female adolescents between ages 12–18 years with an STD diagnosis. Data were obtained from interviews with detainees receiving STD case management services within a California juvenile detention facility in January 2006–June 2007. High-risk behaviors characterized the sample, such as low use of condoms consistently (43.3%), prior STD infection (25%), pregnancy history (26%), arrest charge for prostitution or drug use (23%), and a history of prostitution (18%). Half of the sample reported weekly alcohol or drug use; most commonly used drugs were marijuana (37%), alcohol (21%), and methamphetamine (16%). In multivariate analysis, African Americans had a lower odds of methamphetamine use (odds ratio [OR] = .163) compared with whites. Detainees who reported inconsistent condom use had over twice the odds of methamphetamine use (OR = 2.7) compared with consistent condom users. In addition, those who reported alcohol use had twice the odds of methamphetamine use (2.0). There was a significant interaction between Latina ethnicity and having an arrest charge for drugs or prostitution; Latinas who had this charge had over 11 times the odds of using methamphetamine compared with those with other arrest charges (OR = 11.28). A better understanding of the relationship between drug use and sexual risk behaviors of STD-positive incarcerated female adolescents can inform the development of appropriate corrections and community-based interventions serving this segment of high-risk adolescents.
KeywordsAdolescents Girls Incarceration Methamphetamine Sexually transmitted diseases Substance use Sexual behavior
The authors gratefully acknowledge the work of case managers Kirsten Wilson and Kimberly Coffee, who conducted intake interviews. We also wish to thank Elizabeth Teshome and Kris Langabeer, who assisted with manuscript preparation, and Christine Wells of the UCLA Academic Technology Services who provided statistical support.
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