People who are homeless - especially street youth - tend to have more sexual partners and begin having sex at an earlier age. Often their first sexual experience is as the victim of sexual abuse as a child. Then, as young adults and adults they are exposed to the rigours of street life. Often, people who are homeless are involved in the sex trade for survival purposes. Others report trading sex for food or shelter.
Many homeless women become pregnant. The implications of pregnancy for the homeless population are significant. Due to compromised health, pregnant homeless women experience greater health risks and complications. They have difficulty accessing healthcare, prenatal programs and housing as well as child welfare system interventions. There are many emotional, psychological and health implications associated with pregnancy, birth, motherhood and/or the loss of a child, especially for a vulnerable and marginalized population.
People who are homeless, particularly young women involved in the sex trade, are at increased risk of sexually transmitted disease, including hepatitis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV infection. As well, both men and women who are homeless are at increased risk for disease due to injection drug use, multiple sexual partners and unprotected sex. Developing adequate treatment plans for people whose lives are inherently unstable and for whom there are inadequate supports is complex.