“Survival sex” refers to the selling of sex to meet subsistence needs. It includes the exchange of sex for shelter, food, drugs, or money. The dangers inherent in survival sex make it among the most damaging repercussions of homelessness among youths. Previous estimates of the proportion of runaway and homeless youths who engage in survival sex range from 10% to 50%.1-16 These estimates, however, were based on relatively small and geographically limited samples. We report the proportions engaging in survival sex among runaway and homeless youths in a nationally representative sample of youths in shelters and in a multicity sample of youths on the streets. We also examined potential correlates of survival sex; identification of such correlates may help programs tailor specialized interventions for this high-risk population.
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