International AIDS Society

One Quarter of New HIV Infections in US Among Young People in 2010

Author: Mark Mascolini

29 November 2012

Slightly more than one quarter of new HIV infections in the United States in 2010 occurred in people 13 to 24 years old, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sex between men or boys accounted for almost three quarters of new US HIV infections in 2010, and well over half of new infections occurred in blacks.

The CDC figures that 6.7% of the estimated 1.1 million people with HIV in the US are 13 to 24 years old and that 59.5% of them do not know they are infected. To estimate diagnosed HIV prevalence among young people in 2009 and incidence (the new infection rate) in 2010, CDC statisticians used data from the 2009 and 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System for 9th- to 12th-grade students and the 2010 National Health Interview Survey for persons 18 to 24 years old.

Prevalence of diagnosed HIV at the end of 2009 stood at 69.5 per 100,000 youths. In 2010, young people accounted for 12,200 new US HIV infections, 25.7% of all new infections.

Among newly infected US youth in 2010, 7000 infections (57.4%) occurred in blacks, 2390 (19.6%) in Hispanics, and 2380 (19.5%) in whites. Nearly three quarters of new HIV infections among young people—8800 or 72.1%—resulted from sex between men or boys, and another 4% from a combination of male-to-male sex and injection drug use. Twenty percent of new HIV infections in youth resulted from heterosexual sex, and 4% from injection drug use.

While 86% of girls and young women got HIV through heterosexual sex, 13% became infected by injecting drugs.

Among high school students in the US, only 12.9% have been tested for HIV, while 34.5% of 18- to 24-year-olds have had an HIV test. Testing rates were lower among boys and men than girls and women, and lower among whites and Hispanics than among blacks.

The CDC concludes that “more effort is needed to provide effective school- and community-based interventions to ensure all youths, particularly men who have sex with men, have the knowledge, skills, resources, and support necessary to avoid HIV infection.”

The CDC urges healthcare providers and public health agencies to “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.”

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vital signs: HIV infection, testing, and risk behaviors among youths—United States. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). November 27, 2012 / 61 (Early Release); 1-6.

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