HIV rates rise in youth

Published: December 6, 2012

The number of new HIV infections in the United States remains relatively stable, standing at about 50,000 people annually.

But HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is on the rise among younger Americans under the age of 25.

In fact, too many youth in the United States continue to become infected with HIV, federal officials said. And few are tested.

Those are two key take away points from a new report out by the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which was released to coincide with World AIDS Day.

Specifically, young people between the ages of 13 and 24 in the U.S. account for more than a quarter of new HIV infections each year (26 percent) while 60 percent of these youth living with HIV are unaware they are infected, according to the CDC’s Vital Signs report, released November 27.

The most-affected youth are gay and bisexual men and African Americans.

The analysis looked at the latest data on HIV infections, testing, and risk behaviors among young people.

The report offers insights into what kinds of behavior are driving the high rates of infection.

For example, young men who have sex with men – or MSM – were more likely to report having had sex with four or more partners or injecting illegal drugs.

In addition, among students who were currently sexually active, young MSM were also more likely to have used alcohol or drugs before their last sexual experience and were less likely to have used a condom.

And young MSM were also less likely to report having been taught about HIV or AIDS in school.

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