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UCLA Researchers Surprised to Learn That Homeless Kids Use Online Social Networking to Find Sex

How do homeless kids find someone to have sex with?

According to researchers at the UCLA AIDS Institute, they do it the same way as kids with homes: on the web.

That's right, they use computers, which access the web, which get them on social networking sites.

And if this strikes you as a touch odd, you're not alone.

"Researchers were particularly surprised to find that nearly eight out of 10 homeless youth they surveyed actually used online social networking media," according to UCLA.

The point of the study was to look at how social networking impacts the sexual behavior of homeless youth.

The answer, according to the study: homeless teens and young adults who use social networking websites are generally more sexually active.

Out of the 201 youths surveyed, ages 13 to 24, who were recruited at a LA drop-in agency that assists homeless kids, 79 percent used social networking every week. More than 20 percent said they found a sex partner online within the last 90 days and more than 10 percent said they exchanged sex for either food, drugs, or a place to sleep.

Researchers, however, did find a silver lining, stating that homeless youths who used social networking were more likely to have been tested for an STD and be better informed about protecting themselves against infections such as HIV.

"As online social networks continue to increase," the authors of the study state, "these networks could potentially increase sexual risk behaviors by facilitating an easy way to meet new sex partners. They could also potentially decrease homeless youths' sexual risk behaviors if the networks are used as effective sexual health communications portals."

So you see, the study seems to conclude, the web can be a pimp, but it can also be a learning tool, even for the homeless.

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