April 10th is National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD). NYHAAD is the first annual observance day set aside to recognize the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on young people. National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) serves as a reminder that investing in young people’s health and education is a critical step to achieving an AIDS-free generation.
In the United States, 1 in 5 new HIV diagnoses were in young people aged 13-24 years. Despite the disproportionate number of new HIV infections occurring among youth, the percentage tested for HIV is low compared to other age groups. Only 10% of U.S. high school students have ever been tested for HIV.
From 2005 to 2015, CDC data show declines in sexual risk behaviors among youth, including fewer currently sexually active high school students. The proportion of high school students who ever had sex decreased from 47% in 2005 to 41% in 2015.
Still, the prevalence of some behaviors remains high and puts young people at risk. For instance, condom use has decreased among teens, with 43% of sexually active high students not using a condom the last time they had sex. Additionally, some young people, including lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth, often remain at greater risk for negative health outcomes. For example, 15% of LGB students have had sex with four or more persons during their life, compared to 12% among all high school students. It is critical to use tailored approaches to reach the highest risk youth with the right interventions, in the right way, at the right time.
Addressing HIV in youth requires that young people are provided the tools they need to reduce their risk, make healthy decisions, and get treatment and care if needed.
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