Research / Themes / Shaping policy / Health interventions for young arrestees

Large numbers of drug-involved adolescents enter the juvenile justice system at high risk for a number of health conditions, including the sexually transmitted infections (STIs) chlamydia and gonorrhea. These infections increase the risk for HIV, and although they are easily detectable and treatable infections, there is very little routine screening for STIs among juvenile offenders who are not in correctional facilities. Thus many infections remain undetected among young offenders, undermining public health. This project is testing the feasibility of expanding STI assessments and related health interventions among newly arrested adolescents, examining how STI risk is related to drug use and risk behaviors, analyzing the STI-related service needs and structural impediments to expanding STI testing and services for this high-risk population, and examining the factors that predict whether the County Health Department can contact and treat infected youth. The research findings will be used to inform the development and evaluation of STI/HIV risk reduction interventions for adolescent offenders in the community. As a result of the successful first phase of this project, the Hillsborough County (FL) Health Department has implemented a permanent broad STI screening protocol in the Juvenile Assessment Center that is likely to result in the identification of large numbers of previously undetected infections. This project is a collaborative effort among Temple University, the University of South Florida, Florida Department of Health, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Hillsborough County (FL) Health Department, and Agency for Community Treatment Services.
Funded by a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health

Related faculty

Steven Belenko

Selected publications

Belenko, S., Dembo, R., Rollie, M., Childs, K., & Salvatore, C. (in press) Detecting, preventing, and treating sexually transmitted infections among adolescent offenders: An unmet public health need, American Journal of Public Health.

Belenko, S., Dembo, R., Weiland, D., Rollie, M., Salvatore, C., Hanlon, A., & Childs, K. (in press) Recently arrested adolescents are at high risk for sexually transmitted diseases. Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

Belenko, S., Sprott, JB. and Petersen, CC. (2004). Drug and alcohol involvement among minority and female juvenile offenders: Treatment and policy issues. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 15, 3-36.