Incidence and prevalence of chlamydia, herpes, and viral hepatitis in a homeless adolescent population

Sex Transm Dis. 2001 Jan;28(1):4-10. doi: 10.1097/00007435-200101000-00003.


Background: High rates of unprotected intercourse and illegal drug use have been reported among homeless adolescents. As a transient population with the potential to act as disease vectors from one location to another, incidence and prevalence of sexually transmitted infections in this population are of particular concern.

Goal: To assess a homeless adolescent population for incidence and prevalence of Chlamydia trachomatis, herpes simplex virus type 2, hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, HIV, and psychosocial correlates of the acquisition of sexually transmitted infections.

Study design: Longitudinal with assessments at baseline, 3 months, and 6 months (n = 536; 319 males and 217 females).

Results: Baseline prevalence of C trachomatis was 4.17% for males and 6.30% for females. Prevalence of herpes simplex virus type 2 was 5.73% for males and 12.50% for females. Hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus prevalences were 3.60% and 5.0%, respectively. HIV seroprevalence was 0.3%. The incidence of sexually transmitted infections was significantly higher among females than among males (16.7% versus 9.8%) and was associated with inconsistent condom use and, for females, number of partners and sex with older partners. Incident hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus infection rates were 3.44% and 6.61%, respectively; both were associated with injection drug use.

Conclusions: Among females, the incidence of herpes simplex virus type 2 (> 25%) and C trachomatis (12%) was relatively high. Inconsistent condom use was the primary factor associated with a significantly greater risk of incident sexually transmitted infections. This was especially true for females with multiple partners. Homeless adolescents also are at high risk for hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus infection, primarily associated with self-reported injection drug use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Chlamydia Infections / epidemiology*
  • Condoms / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis, Viral, Human / epidemiology*
  • Herpes Genitalis / epidemiology*
  • Homeless Youth*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Northwestern United States / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Sexual Partners
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / transmission
  • Substance-Related Disorders