Disproportionate number of new HIV infections occur among youth

From the CDC:

In a recent report published on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Website, researchers concluded that a “disproportionate number of new HIV infections occurs among youths, especially blacks/African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and men who have sex with men (MSM).”

The report went on to say that although the number of new HIV infections is highest among men, fewer men have been tested for HIV (as compared to women). Routine HIV testing as part of regular medical care was therefore recommended by the CDC for everyone. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends testing for all youths by age 16–18. They also recommend testing for all sexually active youths regardless of age.

Better adherence to these guidelines, especially for men, is needed to increase early HIV diagnosis and treatment. Treatment is not only critical for the health of the person infected, it is also critical in reducing the chances of spreading the infection to others.

Other key points from the CDC report:

  • Youths aged 13–24 years account for 7% of the estimated 1.1 million persons living with HIV in the United States.
  • In 2010, 26% of estimated new HIV infections were among youths: 57% among blacks/African Americans, 20% among Hispanic/Latinos, and 20% among whites.
  • Nearly 75% of the 12,200 new HIV infections among youths were attributable to male-to-male sexual contact.
  • Only a low percentage of youths have been tested for HIV, and 60% of youths with HIV are unaware of their infection.
  • Young males who have sex with males are at increased risk for HIV because of high rates of HIV in potential sex partners, and they are more likely to engage in HIV-related risk behaviors (e.g., unprotected sexual intercourse and injection drug use) than other male or female high school students.

The report concludes:

More effort is needed to provide effective school- and community-based interventions to ensure all youths, particularly MSM, have the knowledge, skills, resources, and support necessary to avoid HIV infection. Health-care providers and public health agencies should ensure that youths are tested for HIV and have access to sexual health services, and that HIV-positive youths receive ongoing health-care and prevention services.

To read the full report, you can go to the CDC’s Website: http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns.

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