Many Young People Unaware of HIV Infection, Report Shows

A new federal report shows that 60 percent of young people infected with HIV are unaware of their medical status.

In fact, despite recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for routine HIV testing, only 35 percent of young people from the ages of 18 to 24 have been tested. About 13 percent of high school students have been tested at least once.

“That so many young people become infected with HIV each year is a preventable tragedy,” said CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden in a news release. “All young people can protect their health, avoid contracting and transmitting the virus, and learn their HIV status.”

The report, released in advance of World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, found that young people between the  ages of 13 and 24 make up 26 percent of new HIV infections every year.

In 2010, roughly 12,200 young people from the ages of 13 to 24 became infected with HIV, according to the analysis. This group of young people are significantly less likely than older patients to receive HIV care “and to have their virus controlled at a level that helps them stay healthy and reduce their risk of transmitting HIV to partners,” the news release states.

But it will take a concerted effort to empower young people to protect themselves, said Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS for the CDC.

“We can and must achieve a generation that is free from HIV and AIDS,” Fenton said.

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