Maternal substance use and HIV status: Adolescent risk and resilience

Noelle R. Leonard, Marya Viorst Gwadz, Charles M. Cleland, Pooja C. Vekaria, Bill Ferns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examined the risk and protective factors and mental health problems of 105 low SES, urban adolescents whose mothers were coping with alcohol abuse and other drug problems. Approximately half of the mothers were also HIV-infected. As hypothesized, there were few differences between adolescents of HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected mothers in background characteristics, mental health issues and current substance use risk behaviors. In addition to maternal substance abuse, youth in both groups experienced similar risk factors including early foster care placement and high levels of maltreatment. Current patterns of emerging risk behaviors were evident among youth in both groups as well as signs of resiliency including high levels of school attendance. These results underscore the importance of interventions for youth of substance abusing mothers, particularly those living in urban poverty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)389-405
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Adolescence
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2008


  • HIV-infected mothers
  • Mental health
  • Protective factors
  • Risk factors
  • Sexual risk
  • Substance use
  • Urban adolescents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Social Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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