HIV risk behavior and medical status of underprivileged youths in Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Jorge A. Pinto, Andrea J. Ruff, Jose V. Paiva, Carlos M. Antunes, Irene K. Adams, Neal A. Halsey, Dirceu B. Greco

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Methods: From June 1989 to April 1991, 394 adolescents aged 10-18 years randomly selected upon admission at a state shelter in Belo Horizonte, Brazil underwent health history interview, physical examination, serology for HIV, hepatitis B, and syphilis, and stool examination. Participants were classified as street-based youths (n = 195) or home-based youths (n = 199). The age distribution was similar in both groups, although males were overrepresented among street-based youths (79.5% versus 62.3%). Results: Compared with home-based youths, street-based youths reported earlier onset (p = 0.009) and higher rates of sexual activity (odds ratio [OR], 2.1; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.4-3.3), sexual abuse (OR, 3.7; 95% CI, 1.2-10.1), and sexually transmitted diseases (OR, 2.9; 95% CI, 1.3-6.6). Overall condom use was low in both groups. Street-based youths were 7.8 times more likely to use drugs than home-based youths (95%CI, 4.9-12.7). Inhalants and marijuana were the more commonly used drugs. Intravenous drug use was low. Conclusions: Although chronic malnutrition and multiple parasitosis were common findings in both groups, street-based youths were more likely to present disorders related to trauma and poor hygienic conditions. Antibodies to HIV were detected in four (2%) street-based youths and in none of the home-based youths. This study confirms that street youths are at higher risk for HIV infection than their home-based peers and indicates a need for HIV prevention programs targeting this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-185
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1994


  • Homeless Adolescents
  • institutionalized HIV seroprevalence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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