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Sexually active adolescents, especially those in detention, are at high risk for acquisition of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV infection. Yet little information is available that describes their risk behaviors associated with STDs. The overall objective was to define the relationship between risk behaviors and STD acquisition among adolescents.The first goal was to characterize drug use and sexual behaviors that place a population of adolescent male detainees at STD/HIV risk. The second goal was to define possible interrelationships between drug use, especially alcohol use, and risky sexual behaviors with STD acquisition.The study group consisted of 414 adolescent male detainees 12 to 18 years of age who participated in an interview and a clinical assessment. Two hundred sixty-nine of the 414 subjects agreed to STD laboratory tests, including serologic testing for hepatitis B and syphilis, and urethral cultures to screen for chlamydial and gonorrheal urethritis.Results showed that 15% had current evidence of at least one STD, and 34% had a history or current evidence of at least one STD (STD accurrence). The subjects were frequently engaging in risky sexual and drug use behaviors. Two multivariate models described three factors that significantly place the male adolescent in detention at risk for STDs: multiple sexual partners, inconsistent condom use, and the quantity of alcohol consumed per week.Youth in detention place themselves at risk for STDs including HIV because of their risky sexual behavior and drug use. Addressing alcohol use and barriers to condom use appear to be essential components of any STD prevention program targeting this largely minority youth population.