In advance of World AIDS Day, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a new Vital Signs report on HIV among young Americans. This analysis of the latest data on HIV infections, testing, and risk behaviors among young people serves as a stark reminder that over three decades since it’s onset, HIV/AIDS continues to impact our communities.
Young people ages 13–24 account for more than a quarter of all new HIV infections each year. Among those most affected are young gay and bisexual men, who in 2010 represented more than 72% of new infections in this age group; and African-Americans, who represented 57% of new infections by race/ethnicity.
The new Vital Signs reports found significantly higher levels of risk in young MSM. For example, they were:
- More likely to have had sex with four or more partners and to report using drugs or alcohol before their last sexual experience;
- Less likely to have used a condom during their last sexual experience;
- And less likely to report learning about HIV/AIDS in school.
Among all young people, HIV testing presents a significant opportunity. Despite recommendations calling for routine HIV testing for youth from the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics, few young people have been tested:
- Only 13% of high school students had ever been tested for HIV (22% of sexually active students).
- Only 35% of people ages 18–24 have been tested.
Over 60% of HIV-positive youth are unaware they have it. We need to get these youth into HIV care early so they can have better long-term health outcomes. Testing is the first step.
We’ve put together this infographic on HIV/AIDS and youth using this new report and older information to help raise awareness of the importance of HIV testing and care for young people.
You can also help spread information and encourage young people to get tested for World AIDS Day on Twitter using #WAD2012.