Document Type

Article

Disciplines

Public Health

Abstract

Substance use and high risk sexual behavior have significant health consequences for adolescents who engage in these behaviors, including HIV, STD transmission, teen pregnancy, and an array of other associated health problems. The Hartford Youth Project (HYP) established by the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, offers a system of substance abuse treatment which has proven to be effective in reducing adolescent engagement in such high risk behavior. In this study, the data generated by the HYP are examined in conjunction with data derived from a qualitative review of existing services in order to identify a sexual risk profile for substance abusing adolescents in Hartford. The majority of both HYP boys and girls (75% of boys and 56% of girls) reported sexual activity in the last three months. Among both boys and girls, more than a third of both reported that they had sex without a barrier. The large number of substance abusing youth having unprotected sexual activity places them at significant risk of HIV/STDs and pregnancy. Nearly a third of both boys and girls also reported having sex while either they or their partner were high on alcohol or drugs. Although available services have proven to be effective in addressing the issue of substance use and abuse among this population, there is clearly a gap in this service system in the area of HI V, STD and pregnancy prevention. The findings of this study highlight the importance of making services available to youth to address their population's need for such appropriate HIV, STD and pregnancy prevention services.

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