Foster care history and HIV infection among drug-using African American female sex workers

Hilary L. Surratt, Steven P. Kurtz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Foster care has been associated with increased HIV risk behaviors among youth, yet long-term association with HIV infection has not been examined. This study explored the associations between foster placement, victimization, mental health, onset of sex work and HIV infection among highly vulnerable female sex workers. 562drug-involved African American women were enrolled into an intervention study to increase health services utilizationand reduce HIV risk. Seventeen percent reported a history of foster placement. Foster history was associated with significantly lower educational attainment, higher victimization, and more severe mental health problems. Women with foster histories reported significantly earlier entry into paid sex work, with some 62% active in the sex trade before age 18. Multivariate analyses found that foster care was independently associated with HIV seropositivity, and that early sex work partially mediated this association. The potential long-term health vulnerabilities associated with foster placement are understudied and warrant additionalresearch.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)982-989
Number of pages8
JournalAIDS and Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This research was supported by Grant Number R01DA013131 from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The authors gratefully acknowledge Dr. James A. Inciardi, Principal Investigator of this study through 2009.


  • Foster care
  • HIV
  • Sex workers
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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