Funder: NIMH through CIRA's Pilot Project Program
Project period: 04/27/2015 - 04/26/2016
Grant Type: Pilot Project
One of the most vulnerable groups at risk of HIV infection is homeless and unaccompanied unstably housed (UUH) youth who are at 10 times the risk of acquiring HIV than other adolescents in the US. Increased HIV risk among UUH youth is well-established; however, what we know about UUH youth’s HIV risk patterns is largely based upon studies conducted on “literally” homeless youth populations (living in shelters, outside, etc) that reside in large urban areas. Understanding social-ecological determinants of HIV risk of UUH youth within small urban areas have been largely understudied, and very few studies have been able to successfully reach more hidden populations of UUH youth not involved in traditional services to gather information in order to better inform prevention that is effective for them. The proposed pilot study seeks to understand the HIV prevention needs of an understudied and hard to reach population of UUH youth living in three small urban areas in Connecticut with high HIV prevalence (Bridgeport, New Haven, and Hartford), and to pilot test an internet-based peer recruitment methodology (webRDS) to reach the most hidden UUH youth.
Engagement of key community informants, a short online survey with 75 UUH youth, and follow-up in-depth interviews with a subset of 30 UUH youth will allow our team to explore the feasibility of using webRDS as a sampling method to generate a diverse sample of UUH youth and to gather much needed information on social-ecological features of small urban areas that could be utilized to meet HIV prevention needs of UUH youth.