Gaps in Sexual Assault Health Care Among Homeless Young Adults. Academic Article uri icon


  • INTRODUCTION: Young adults experiencing homelessness are at increased risk for sexual assault. Receiving a post-sexual assault examination has important implications for HIV and unintended pregnancy prevention; yet, utilization is not well understood. In a population at elevated risk for HIV, unintended pregnancy, and sexual violence, identifying barriers and facilitators to post-sexual assault examination is imperative. METHODS: As part of a large, multisite study to assess youth experiencing homelessness across 7 cities in the U.S, a cross-sectional survey was conducted between June 2016 and July 2017. Data were analyzed in 2019 to determine the prevalence and correlates of sexual violence and examine the correlates of post-sexual assault examination utilization. RESULTS: Respondents (n=1,405), aged 18-26 years, were mainly youth of color (38% black, 17% Latinx) and identified as cisgender male (59%) and lesbian, gay, bisexual, or queer (29%). HIV risks were high: 23% of participants had engaged in trade sex, 32% had experienced sexual assault as a minor, and 39% had experienced sexual exploitation. Young adults reported high rates of sexual assault (22%) and forced sex (24%). Yet, only 29% of participants who were forced to have sex received a post-sexual assault examination. Latinx young adults were more likely than other races/ethnicities to receive post-assault care. Participants frequently said they did not get a post-sexual assault exam because they did not want to involve the legal system and did not think it was important. CONCLUSIONS: Interventions are needed to increase use of preventive care after experiencing sexual assault among young adults experiencing homelessness.

published proceedings

  • Am J Prev Med

altmetric score

  • 61.85

author list (cited authors)

  • Santa Maria, D. M., Breeden, K., Drake, S. A., Narendorf, S. C., Barman-Adhikari, A., Petering, R., ... Bender, K.

citation count

  • 7

complete list of authors

  • Santa Maria, Diane M||Breeden, Khara||Drake, Stacy A||Narendorf, Sarah C||Barman-Adhikari, Anamika||Petering, Robin||Hsu, Hsun-Ta||Shelton, Jama||Ferguson-Colvin, Kristin||Bender, Kimberly

publication date

  • February 2020