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Not many teens and young adults are getting tested for HIV and those rates aren’t going up. HIV testing rates actually declined for white females and black females, according to just-published research.
“Without HIV testing and diagnosis, adolescents and young adults cannot take advantage of HIV care and treatment that can improve their health and reduce the risk of transmission to others,” the authors write in the study “HIV Testing Among U.S. High School Students and Young Adults” in Pediatrics.
About one in four new HIV infections in 2010 were in people ages 13 to 24, the study reports. Nearly half (44%) of young people with HIV are not diagnosed.
“These results indicate that recommendations to screen all adolescents and young adults for HIV infection, regardless of risk, have not been widely implemented,” the study says.
The CDC says that everyone between ages 13 and 64 should have routine HIV screening. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) calls for routine screening for all adolescents by age 16-18 or as part of routine screening for all sexually active adolescents, depending on the prevalence of HIV in the community. If the youth is a high risk, he or she should be tested annually, the AAP says.
What makes a difference in whether teens are tested? A recommendation from their providers, according to the study authors: “Multi-pronged testing strategies, including provider education, system-level interventions in clinical settings, adolescent-friendly testing services, and sexual health education will likely be needed to increase testing and reduce the percentage of adolescents and young adults living with HIV infection,” they said.
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