Justice-involved youth display higher prevalence rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), in comparison with youth in the general population, highlighting a critical public health concern. Individual factors are important predictors of STDs, but only provide a partial understanding of this public health issue. Communities experiencing higher levels of disorder and lower levels of cohesion tend to have fewer institutional resources available, which may impact sexual risk behavior and STDs. However, few studies have examined the association between community characteristics and STD prevalence among adolescents. The current study examined community-level (n = 106) characteristics and individual-level attributes in explaining STDs among justice-involved youth (n = 1233: n = 515 female; n = 718 male). At the individual level, results showed older males and those with more drug-related problems were more likely to be STD positive, while females with more sexual partners and those with less drug-related problems were more likely to be STD positive. At the community level, females residing in areas with fewer educated residents were more likely to be STD positive. These gender differences were significant, suggesting a gendered perspective is important for understanding STD infection. The justice system represents a critical opportunity in the treatment and prevention of STDs for youth.
- Juvenile justice
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)