The Interaction of Sexual Validation, Criminal Justice Involvement, and Sexually Transmitted Infection Risk Among Adolescent and Young Adult Males

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Abstract

Background

Young men who have been involved with the criminal justice system are more likely to have concurrent sexual partners, a key driver of sexually transmitted infections. The value men place on having sexual relationships to validate themselves may play an important role in understanding this association.

Methods

Data were from a household survey. Young men (N = 132), aged 16 to 24 years, self-reported whether they ever spent time in jail or juvenile detention and if they had sexual partnerships that overlapped in time. A novel scale, “Validation through Sex and Sexual Relationships” (VTSSR) assessed the importance young men place on sex and sexual relationships (α = 0.91). Weighted logistic regression accounted for the sampling design.

Results

The mean (SD) VTSSR score was 23.7 (8.8) with no differences by race. Both criminal justice involvement (CJI) (odds ratio [OR], 3.69; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.12–12.1) and sexual validation (OR, 1.10; 95% CI, 1.04–1.16) were associated with an increased odds of concurrency; however, CJI did not remain associated with concurrency in the fully adjusted model. There was effect modification, CJI was associated with concurrency among those who scored high on sexual validation (OR, 9.18; 95% CI, 1.73–48.6]; however, there was no association among those who scored low on sexual validation. Racial differences were observed between CJI and concurrency, but not between sexual validation and concurrency.

Conclusions

Sexual validation may be an important driver of concurrency for men who have been involved with the criminal justice system. Study findings have important implications on how sexual validation may explain racial differences in rates of concurrency.

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