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December 18, 1996

Providing Support and Assistance for Low-Income or Homeless Women

Author Affiliations

El Paso County Department of Health and Environment Colorado Springs, Colo
Florida International University North Miami

JAMA. 1996;276(23):1874-1875. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540230024017

To the Editor.  —In their well-conducted epidemiologic study of low-income or homeless mothers who are heads of households, Dr Bassuk and colleagues1 recommend that health agencies ensure that these women "are linked to and follow through with relevant community services" to "improve [their] social economic situation." Our experience indicates that ensuring follow-through is labor-intensive and only modestly successful.Between September 1993 and March 1995 in Colorado Springs, Colo (1990 census population: 397 014), we enrolled and prospectively followed young women at high risk for social and economic crises. Participants were recruited from our sexually transmitted disease clinic and consisted of 17 prostitutes (mean age, 19.4±2.9 years) and 50 comparison women at risk to enter prostitution (mean age, 19.6±2.5 years). Prostitute women had exchanged sex for money, drugs, or goods; comparison women denied ever engaging in prostitution, but admitted to a history of at least 2 of the following: 3