Despite the fact they make up a significant share of new HIV infections, only one of five sexually active U.S. teens have been tested for the infection.
Recent research from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims that roughly 22 percent of sexually active high school students have made the decision to get tested for HIV.
The sexually active age group from 13 to 24 accounted for about 26 percent of all new HIV infections in 2010. The study adds that roughly 60 percent of youths with HIV don’t realize they are infected.
The study, titled the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, examines the behavior of high school students regarding a variety of activities from 1991 to 2013. The data also found that the number of students getting tested for HIV has remained stagnant since 2005. In the 13-24 age group, the numbers show that female and black students were more likely to be tested for HIV.
“We do believe that some amount of complacency is having some impact,”began Laura Kann, lead researcher on the CDC study and a scientist at CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health. “As the (AIDS) epidemic becomes less of a crisis, young people become less aware of (the dangers of) HIV.”
Additional data regarding general sexual activity among the 13-24 year old age was also part of the CDC study and revealed the following:
Nationwide, 15 percent of students had had sexual intercourse with four or more persons during their life. The prevalence of having had sexual intercourse with four or more persons was higher among male (16.8 percent) than female (13.2 percent) students; higher among black male (37.5 percent) and Hispanic male (16.5 percent) than black female (15.8 percent) and Hispanic female (10.5 percent) students, respectively; and higher among 9th-grade male (9.1 percent), 10th-grade male (14.5 percent), and 12th-grade male (25.7 percent) than 9th-grade female (4.4 percent), 10th-grade female (10.7 percent), and 12th-grade female (21.1 percent) students, respectively.
The CDC data also showed that 34 percent of students had had sexual intercourse with at least one person during the 3 months before the survey, which it categorizes as being currently sexually active.
Perhaps most interesting is the fact the study showed that 85.3 percent of students have been taught in school about AIDS or HIV infection. Despite the high percentage for those being made aware of HIV in schools, researchers feel more still needs to be done in this area.
“I think kids live on a very short time horizon,” said Nancy Mahon, global executive director of the MAC AIDS Fund. “Pregnancy seems like a much more urgent issue than HIV. We need to do a better job of educating kids about HIV. We have tools to end the epidemic, and it’s a 100 percent preventable disease.”