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Crack and cocaine use a significant HIV risk factor for teens
Date:3/31/2010

PROVIDENCE, RI Teens with a history of crack or cocaine use are significantly more likely to engage in unprotected sex than youth who have never used these drugs, putting themselves at increased risk for HIV, according to a study in the April issue of the Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse.

Researchers from the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center report that teens in psychiatric care who used crack and/or cocaine at least once were six times more likely to use condoms inconsistently, which was defined as "sometimes," "never" or "rarely." The findings suggest that crack cocaine appears to have more of an influence on risky teen behaviors than other factors, like alcohol and marijuana use, which are more routinely incorporated into adolescent HIV prevention interventions.

The study is one of the first to look at the link between crack and cocaine use and HIV risk behaviors in adolescents. Previous research has demonstrated this association in adults.

"Unprotected sex is the most common way that HIV is transmitted among teens, so if we can develop a clearer picture of why some kids engage in high-risk sexual behaviors, we will be better prepared to educate them about safe sex," says lead author Marina Tolou-Shams, PhD, of the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center. "Our findings suggest that future HIV prevention interventions should include content specific to crack and cocaine use, just as they do with drugs that are more commonly used by teens, like alcohol and marijuana."

Overall, nearly 280 teens between the ages of 13 and 18 from therapeutic psychiatric day programs took part in the study. Participants exhibited a range of psychiatric diagnoses, including mood disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and disruptive behavior disorders. More than half of all adolescents were male, and more than three-quarters were Caucasian. Approximately 13 percent of teens in the study reported trying crack o
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Contact: Jessica Collins Grimes
jgrimes2@lifespan.org
401-432-1328
Lifespan
Source:Eurekalert

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