Syndemic profiles and sexual health risks among sexually exploited adolescent girls in Taiwan: A latent class analysis

Ji-Kang CHEN, Shu-Chen WANG, Li-Chih Wang

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Abstract

Sexually exploited adolescent girls are disproportionately affected by adverse psychosocial conditions, such as intra-familial child physical and sexual abuse, extra-familial violence and sexual assault, alcohol and drug use, and suicide. Syndemic theory suggests that these adverse psychosocial or syndemic conditions are concentrated and co-occurring in socially marginalized populations, including sexually exploited adolescents, and increase their sexual health risks, including pregnancy, abortion, and the acquisition of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). To examine clusters of syndemic conditions, latent class analysis (LCA) was conducted to classify 335 sexually exploited girls in Taiwan into subgroups based on their probability of experiencing each syndemic condition. We used syndemic class membership to predict their sexual health outcomes, specifically pregnancy, abortion, and the acquisition of STDs. The results of LCA revealed three classes, which were “low-risk syndemic,” “moderate-risk syndemic,” and “high-risk syndemic.” The risk of acquisition of STDs among sexually exploited girls in the “high-risk syndemic class” and “moderate-risk syndemic class” was 239% and 135% higher, respectively, than the risk of acquisition of STDs among sexually exploited girls in the “low-risk syndemic class.” Differences between these three classes in pregnancy and abortion were not significant. Our findings support the syndemic theory that a pattern of syndemic conditions is associated with an increased risk of acquiring STDs. Interventions aimed at reducing the acquisition of STDs among sexually exploited girls in Taiwan should adopt a comprehensive approach to address co-occurring conditions. Copyright © 2023 The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1631-1641
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Volume52
Early online dateFeb 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2023

Citation

Chen, J.-K., Wang, S.-C., & Wang, L.-C. (2023). Syndemic profiles and sexual health risks among sexually exploited adolescent girls in Taiwan: A latent class analysis. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 52, 1631-1641. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-023-02545-2

Keywords

  • Syndemic
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Poly-victimization
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Suicide
  • Substance use

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