The 20th International AIDS Conference will take place from July 20-25 in Melbourne, Australia where experts will gather to provide information. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will have some alarming information for those present at the conference.
According to the CDC report that analyzed data from 1991 to 2013, only 22% of sexually active high school students have ever been tested for HIV. Those aged 13 to 24 account for 25% of new HIV infections in the United States each year, which is approximately 12,200, and 60% of the youths are unaware they are infected. Most of these infections occur among gay and bisexual males.
Over 13,000 students were included in the CDC’s research and were organized based on if they were sexually active, tested for HIV, had four or more sexual partners in their lifetimes, and had used a condom the last time they engaged in intercourse. Despite the government recommendation that people aged 13-64 get tested for HIV at least once as a part of routine medical care, it was found many of these teens had not done so.
“This is very concerning, but not surprising,” said Dr. Vivian Hernandez-Trujillo, an immunologist at Miami Children’s Hospital, in this Philly.com article. “One of the things I speak to my patients about is, are they sexually active and are they using protection all the time. Since the reality is that they aren’t using protection all the time, it’s even more concerning that they aren’t getting tested.”
Additionally, according to the MAC AIDS Fund – whose mission is to serve people of all ages, races, and sexes affected by HIV/AIDS – a majority of teens between the ages of 12 and 17 don’t think they’re at risk for HIV. The Guttmacher Institute also notes that only 22 states and Washington, D.C. require sex education in schools, while only 20 and D.C. require HIV education.
The UNAIDS Global Report for 2014 that was released earlier this week and will also be presented at the International AIDS Conference found that out of the 35 million people living with HIV worldwide, an estimated 19 million are unaware that they are infected. These are the most dangerous HIV cases because these people are likely to continue engaging in risky behaviors that could exacerbate the virus’ spread.
As the conference is set to begin, international scientists and researchers are hopeful they can tackle the global HIV/AIDS epidemic and get it under control by 2030.