We propose a study to examine the HIV/AIDS risk behaviors of homeless youth in large interconnected networks of youth. The nearly 2 million runaway and homeless youth (RHY) in the United States each year are at great risk for contracting HIV/AIDS, with prevalence rates reported as high as 11.5%. To develop new interventions or improve existing network-based interventions, we must have an accurate assessment of network structure. The requisite data have not been collected because RHY are an unbounded population, and social network researchers have not reached consensus as to how to collect sociometric data from unbounded populations. The event-based approach (EBA) proposed by Freeman that samples the """"""""regulars"""""""" of a socio-physical space (e.g. a beach) seems promising for RHY and will be tested in the proposed study. A broad spectrum of RHY (those in shelters and on the streets) can be found in large numbers, habitually accessing services from drop-in centers where they socialize, eat, and receive case management - they are """"""""regulars"""""""" of a socio-physical space. These centers are also sustainable sites for future intervention delivery. Thus our Specific Aims are: 1. To use the event-based approach (EBA) to collect multiple panels of sociometric network data over time on an unbounded population of youth at risk for HIV/AIDS. 2. To examine how network positions relate to risk-taking and whether risk-taking structures endure over time, independent of the individual youth who may occupy those positions in the network. 3. To examine network ties to pro-social home-based peers and supportive family (including online, cell phone, and face to face connections) to explore sources of healthy influence and new points of intervention for youth who are not embedded in larger RHY networks. To accomplish these aims, we propose a three year study. RHY network data will be collected in two drop-in centers serving RHY in different neighborhoods in Los Angeles. We will collect four panels of sociometric data, once every 6 months at each location. Successfully addressing these aims will provide: (1) unique over time sociometric data on HIV risk in unbounded networks, (2) direction as to how to spend prevention dollars targeting RHY with face-to-face network interventions, and (3) new directions in HIV prevention interventions, using social networking technology to connect RHY to pro-social, non-RHY networks.

Public Health Relevance

We have proposed a study which looks at large interconnected social networks of homeless youth over time. Homeless youth are at great risk for HIV and their peer relationships are an important source of that risk. The results of this project will provide direction for improving existing HIV prevention programs for homeless youth, as well as provide new insights into how online social networking sites and cell phones may be used to deliver interventions to these youth.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-RPHB-A (51))
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Kamath, Susannah M Allison
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University of Southern California
Schools of Social Work
Los Angeles
United States
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Harris, Taylor; Rice, Eric; Rhoades, Harmony et al. (2017) Gender Differences in the Path From Sexual Victimization to HIV Risk Behavior Among Homeless Youth. J Child Sex Abus 26:334-351
Petering, Robin; Rhoades, Harmony; Winetrobe, Hailey et al. (2017) Violence, Trauma, Mental Health, and Substance Use Among Homeless Youth Juggalos. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev 48:642-650
Barman-Adhikari, Anamika; Al Tayyib, Alia; Begun, Stephanie et al. (2017) Descriptive and injunctive network norms associated with nonmedical use of prescription drugs among homeless youth. Addict Behav 64:70-77
Craddock, Jaih B; Rice, Eric; Rhoades, Harmony et al. (2016) Are Parental Relationships Always Protective? A Social Network Analysis of Black, Latino, and White Homeless Youth and Sexual Risk-Taking Behaviors. Prev Sci 17:914-924
Yadav, A; Marcolino, L S; Rice, E et al. (2016) PSINET: Assisting HIV Prevention Amongst Homeless Youth by Planning Ahead. AI Mag 37:47-62
Barman-Adhikari, Anamika; Begun, Stephanie; Rice, Eric et al. (2016) Sociometric network structure and its association with methamphetamine use norms among homeless youth. Soc Sci Res 58:292-308
Barman-Adhikari, Anamika; Rice, Eric; Bender, Kimberly et al. (2016) Social Networking Technology Use and Engagement in HIV-Related Risk and Protective Behaviors Among Homeless Youth. J Health Commun 21:809-17
Petering, Robin (2016) Sexual risk, substance use, mental health, and trauma experiences of gang-involved homeless youth. J Adolesc 48:73-81
Lim, Caroline; Rice, Eric; Rhoades, Harmony (2016) Depressive Symptoms and their Association With Adverse Environmental Factors and Substance Use in Runaway and Homeless Youths. J Res Adolesc 26:403-417
Winetrobe, H; Rice, E; Rhoades, H et al. (2016) Health insurance coverage and healthcare utilization among homeless young adults in Venice, CA. J Public Health (Oxf) 38:147-55

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