From 1988 to 1991, 139 runaways aged 11-19 years in the New York City area (n = 70 males, 69 females) were recruited from four shelters. Each runaway participated in a semistructured interview assessing beliefs and behavioral intentions regarding human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing. When asked how they would respond to being seropositive for HIV, 29% of runaways reported that they would engage in self-destructive acts and/or harm others (e.g., suicide, unprotected sex), 80% anticipated extreme distress, 47% expected difficulty securing housing and food, and 61% believed that friends were likely to avoid them. When presented with specific alternatives, fewer runaways anticipated self-destructive acte. Drug use, rather than sexual behaviors, would lead runaways to get tested for HIV. These results suggest that health-care providers must anticipate emotional distress and potential self-destructive behavior following receipt of documentation of HIV positive serostatus among runaways. Furthermore, prior to testing, youths' access to food, shelter, medical care, and social support must be secured.
- Adolescent Runaways Homeless HIV testing Prevention Health care
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Psychiatry and Mental health