This finding is from a long-term study of risky behaviors among a largely African-American group of young people in Flint, Michigan.
Publishing their findings in the journal AIDS, researchers conducted an 18-year longitudinal study of 850 people in Flint, Michigan, starting when they were 14 and ending when they were 32. The investigators evaluated the participants, who were largely African American, at six points during the study period, asking about sexual behaviors, mental health, being a victim of or witness to violence and various social conditions, including family, peer and community factors.
Of those teens who had a higher level of psychological and social risk factors during their teen years, one in four were, during adulthood, more likely to report condomless sex with recent sexual partners and to report having sex with someone they just met. These individuals were also more likely to use illegal drugs before having sex and to report having had more than four sexual partners.
“Our findings support the notion that the increasing frequency of psychosocial risk factors experienced during adolescence may have effects on HIV risk behaviors decades later,” the study’s lead author David Córdova, PhD, an assistant professor of social work at the University of Michigan, said in a press release.
The study is limited by the fact that it focused primarily on African Americans, so its findings may not be generalizable to the general population.
By Benjamin Ryan