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HIV Infection, Testing, and Risk Behaviors Among Youths – United States

Vital Signs: HIV Infection, Testing, and Risk Behaviors Among Youths — United States, November 30, 2012

  • “The risk for acquiring human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection during adolescence and early adulthood starts with initiation of sexual behavior or injection drug use, and initiation of contributing behaviors such as use of alcohol and other drugs. The prevalence of HIV in potential sex partners, the percentage of HIV-infected persons unaware of their status, and the frequency of risky sexual behaviors and injection drug use contribute to the level of risk. In 2009, youths (defined in this report as persons aged 13–24 years), who represented 21% of the U.S. population, comprised 6.7% of persons living with HIV. More than half (59.5%) were unaware of their infection, the highest for any age group (1). All persons need to understand the threat of HIV and how to prevent it (2). Youths, particularly those at highest risk, need effective school-based, school-linked, and community-based interventions (3) that make them aware of their risk for HIV and help delay initiation of sexual activity, increase condom use for those who are sexually active, and decrease other behaviors, such as alcohol and drug use, that contribute to HIV risk. This report describes, among youths, 1) rates of those living with a diagnosis of HIV infection at the end of 2009, 2) the estimated number of new HIV infections in 2010, 3) the percentage that have been tested for HIV, and 4) the percentage that engage in selected risk behaviors.”
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