To examine changes in the prevalence of 15 HIV/AIDS sex and drug risk behaviors in delinquent youth during the 14 years after they leave detention, focusing on sex and racial/ethnic differences.


The Northwestern Juvenile Project, a prospective longitudinal study of 1829 youth randomly sampled from detention in Chicago, Illinois, recruited between 1995 and 1998 and reinterviewed up to 11 times. Independent interviewers assessed HIV/AIDS risk behaviors using the National Institutes on Drug Abuse Risk Behavior Assessment.


Fourteen years after detention (median age, 30 years), one-quarter of males and one-tenth of females had >1 sexual partner in the past 3 months. One-tenth of participants reported recent unprotected vaginal sex with a high-risk partner. There were many sex and racial/ethnic differences. For example, African American males had 4.67 times the odds of having >1 partner than African American females (95% confidence interval [CI], 3.22–6.76). Over time, compared with non-Hispanic white males, African American males had 2.56 times the odds (95% CI, 1.97–3.33) and Hispanic males had 1.63 times the odds (95% CI, 1.24–2.12) of having multiple partners, even after adjusting for incarceration and age. Non-Hispanic white females were more likely to have multiple partners than racial/ethnic minority females.


Although rates decrease over time, prevalence of sex risk behaviors are much higher than the general population. Among males, racial/ethnic minorities were at particular risk. The challenge for pediatric health is to address how disproportionate confinement of racial/ethnic minority youth contributes to disparities in the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

You do not currently have access to this content.