Source: Fenway Press Release

According to the United State Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), young people between the ages of 13 and 24 represent more than a quarter of new HIV infections each year (26 percent) and most of these youth living with HIV (60 percent) are unaware they are infected. The most-affected young people are young gay and bisexual men and African Americans.

This information was released in a Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on November 27.  The analysis looks at the latest data on HIV infections, testing, and risk behaviors among young people and was published in advance of  World AIDS Day, December 1, 2012.

What are the most important results the study shows?

Many people get infected with HIV as a teen or young adultNew HIV infections in youth in 2010
  • About 1 in 4 (26%) of all new HIV infections is among youth ages 13 to 24 years. About 4 in 5 of these infections occur in males.
  • Nearly 60% of new infections occur in African Americans youth, about 20% in Latinos, and about 20% in whites.
  • Over half (54%) of new infections among young gay and bisexual males are in African Americans.
  • About 87% of young males got HIV from male to male sex, 6% from heterosexual sex, 2% from injection drug use and about 5% from a combination of male-to-male sex and injection drug use.
  • About 86% of young females got HIV through heterosexual sex and 13% from injection drug use.
  • More new infections occurred among young African American males than in any other group of youth by race/ethnicity and sex.
Most youth are not getting tested for HIV
  • About 60% of youth with HIV do not know they are infected and so don’t receive treatment, putting them at risk for sickness and early death. These youth can also unknowingly pass HIV to others.
  • Young men are far more likely than young women to have HIV and are also less likely to get tested.
  • African American youth are more likely to get tested for HIV than youth of other races or ethnicities.
  • Youth who report being at risk for HIV are the ones to get tested, but still many youth at risk have never been tested.

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Fenway Health has several programs working to address HIV infection in young people and our staff is available for expert commentary:

  • Fenway’s Sidney Borum, Jr. Health Center specializes in caring for youth and young adults ages 12 to 29 who may not feel comfortable going anywhere else, including those who are LGBT or just figuring things out; homeless or living on the streets; struggling with substance use or abuse; sex workers; or living with HIV/AIDS.  Ralph Vetter, MD, Medical Director of the Borum, and other staff are available for interview.
  • The Fenway Institute is a part of the Adolescent Trials Network (ATN) whose mission is to conduct HIV/AIDS intervention research, both independently and in collaboration with existing research networks. Kenneth Mayer, MD, Fenway’s Medical Research Director and Co-Chair of The Fenway Institute, and other ATN study staff are available for interview.  Three of Fenway’s ATN projects are of particular interest:
    • Project PrEPare: An open label demonstration project and Phase II safety study of pre-exposure prophylaxis use among 18 – 24 year-old men who have sex with men in the United States. All participants will receive daily Truvada with a behavioral intervention called Many Men Many Voices.  This study is expected to start enrolling in December, 2012. 
    • SMILE Linkage-to-Care Program: HIV-related Linkage to Care and Engagement in Care. The goal of SMILE is to ensure that all HIV-positive youth, ages 12 – 24, are linked to HIV medical care.
    • Connect to Protect (C2P): Building a Community-Based Infrastructure for HIV Prevention.  The national mission of C2P is to reduce HIV/AIDS rates among adolescents and young adults through collaborative efforts of communities and health researchers. The mission of C2P Boston is to identify, develop, and catalyze prevention strategies that will reduce HIV infection rates among young men who have sex with men and transgender-identified young people. Our goal is to ultimately reduce HIV incidence and prevalence among youth and young adults in Boston, ages 12 – 24, through community mobilization and structural change.

For more than forty years, Fenway Health has been working to make life healthier for the people in our neighborhood, the LGBT community, people living with HIV/AIDS and the broader population.  The Fenway Institute at Fenway Health is an interdisciplinary center for research, training, education and policy development focusing on national and international health issues. Fenway’s Sidney Borum Jr. Health Center cares for youth and young adults ages 12 to 29 who may not feel comfortable going anywhere else, including those who are LGBT or just figuring things out; homeless or living on the streets; struggling with substance use or abuse; sex workers; or living with HIV/AIDS.



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