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Sexually transmitted and blood borne infections among street-involved youth

Image of microscopically enlarged bacteria.

The Public Health Agency of Canada released five fact sheets: Addressing determinants of sexually transmitted and blood borne infections (STBBIs) among street-involved youth. The fact sheets are based on an analysis of current literature and include information about STBBIs in relation to: mental health and mental illness, unstable housing and homelessness, education and employment, experiences with the criminal justice system, and access to health services.   

Overall, street-involved youth, are at much higher risks than youth in the general population. In particular, street-involved youth experience mental illness including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder at a higher rate, which plays an important role in the development and maintenance of sexual behaviours, such as inconsistent condom use, involvement in sex work and multiple sex partners, as well as substance use (e.g., injection drug use), all of which increase vulnerability to STBBIs. Poor mental health can make it difficult to access health care services. Positive relationships with family, peers and teachers contribute to positive mental helath among street-involved youth with an unstable home life. Check out the fact sheets above to inform yourself about the risks and resiliency factors that can help to educate you and promote health.