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British Columbia's youth in custody : gender differences in sexual and substance use risk behaviours Durigon, Monica Anna

Abstract

• To characterize the profile of British Columbia's youth in custody • To describe risk taking behaviour among male and female youth in custody • To estimate prevalence of sexual and substance use risk behaviours among male and female youth in custody • To determine if there are differences in sexual and substance use risk taking behaviour between male and female youth in custody • To explore the mechanisms through which gender may impact on sexually transmitted infections (self report) and injection drug use (self report) outcomes From January to August 2006, youth aged 14-19 years residing in or entering into British Columbia's three youth custody centers (Prince George, Victoria, Bumaby) were invited to participate. A confidential interviewer-administered questionnaire collecting demographic and risk factor information was completed on 414 youth; with known gender and whose anonymity was maintained. Descriptive statistics were utilized to characterize British Columbia's Youth in Custody while prevalence estimates were calculated for risk behaviours. Odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals were utilized as a measure of effect size of gender on sexual and substance use risk taking behaviour. Logistic regression modeled the association between select risk behaviours, gender, age and ethnicity, on self report of sexually transmitted infections and injection drug use outcomes. This exploratory study provides documentation suggesting sexual and substance use health risk behaviours are found in high proportions among British Columbia youth in custody. Gender differences and patterns exist, with females disproportionately carrying the greater burden of risk taking behaviour. Such risk behaviours render youth in custody vulnerable to not only the acquisition of sexually transmitted infections and blood borne viruses, but also to obstacles impeding healthy adolescent development. Identification o f risk factors and behaviours addressing specific determinants of health can be utilized to develop and inform current public health efforts to address the needs of British Columbia's vulnerable youth in custody.

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