National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth and Families

STDs Among Young Adults Linked to Childhood And Teenage Risk Factors

Year Published: 2008
Journal Article
Guttmacher Institute
Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 40(3); 2008
Guttmacher Institute

Guided by the idea that disease transmission is influenced not just by individual behavior but also by one's exposure to social, economic and environmental factors, researchers used data from Wave 3 of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to examine the association between STDs, sexual risk behaviors, and 13 contextual risk factors. They found that a young adult's risk factors for STDs include not only risky sexual behaviors, such as inconsistent condom use, but also a variety of environmental and psychosocial factors from childhood and adolescence. Measures of past socioeconomic status, abuse, exposure to violence, substance use and depression were associated with current or recent STD diagnoses, and disease risk increased with the number of these factors. Moreover, even after key sexual risk factors were taken into account, young adults had an elevated likelihood of a recent STD diagnosis if they were abused during childhood, had been in a gang, had used alcohol frequently or hadbeen depressed.

Guttmacher, 1301 Connecticut Avenue N.W. Suite 700 Washington, D.C. 20036; Telephone: 202-296-4012; Website:
Publication is available on the Internet for a fee