Birth Control Access and Selection among Youths Experiencing Homelessness in the United States: A Review.
Youths experiencing homelessness (YEH) become pregnant at five times the general population rate. Education, social, and health care systems struggle to adequately address this young community's sexual and reproductive health needs, yet social workers are well positioned across sectors to address their sexual and reproductive health and well-being. A growing body of literature exists on the factors affecting YEH's access and selection of birth control, prompting the present review that aimed to understand this process and inform better attuned sexual and reproductive health approaches. Using a systematic search and analytic approach, we retrieved 203 articles, of which 23 met inclusion criteria. Key findings emerged across socioecological levels, including barriers and facilitators to condom use; the differential impact on YEH of hormonal birth control side effects; and the devastating effects of economic insecurity leading to sexual exploitation, survival sex, and exposure to violence. Implications include the need for multilevel intervention that addresses youths' knowledge, attitudes, and behavior as well the need to improve social norms and system design to provide better attuned care for YEH.
Health & Social Work