HIV risk behavior and internalizing/externalizing psychopathology among adolescents in court-ordered treatment

Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2016 Mar;42(2):187-95. doi: 10.3109/00952990.2015.1132719. Epub 2016 Feb 10.


Background: The confluence of drug use behaviors, sexual risk, and psychopathology may complicate human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention intervention for adolescents engaging in substance use and criminal behavior. However, few studies have examined these risk associations.

Objective: This study identified HIV risk behavior subgroups among adolescents in court-ordered substance abuse treatment and examined linkages with dimensions of internalizing and externalizing psychopathology.

Methods: Internalizing and externalizing behaviors were assessed with the Millon Adolescent Clinical Inventory (MACI). Latent class analysis was used to identify subgroups on the basis of involvement in substance use proximal to sex, number of partners, and consistency of condom use.

Results: Participants (n = 301) were identified as demonstrating high, medium, or low levels of sexual risk behavior. Greater externalizing psychopathology distinguished the high risk class from the medium risk class and from the low risk class.

Conclusion: Detained youth with particularly serious oppositional-defiant behavioral characteristics, substance use, and sex risk behavior likely require intensive interventions that address the multiple systemic factors that contribute to the development and maintenance of this pattern.

Keywords: Adolescent; HIV risk behavior; externalizing; internalizing; personality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • HIV Infections / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Male
  • Mandatory Programs*
  • Risk Factors
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy*
  • Unsafe Sex / prevention & control
  • Unsafe Sex / psychology*
  • Unsafe Sex / statistics & numerical data*