Young Americans represent a large portion of new HIV infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, a new report shows that only around 22 percent of sexually active high school students have even been tested for the virus.
Twenty-six percent of all new HIV infections in 2010 were from those between the ages of 13 and 24. Close to 60 percent of youths with HIV in the country are also unaware of infection, according to USA Today.
“We do believe that some amount of complacency is having some impact,” said Laura Kann, the lead researcher of the report 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.”
For the analysis, researchers examined trends on sexual risk behaviors that included high school students who have had sex, been tested for HIV, had four or more sexual partners in their lifetime and had used a condom the last time they had sex. Over 13,000 students were surveyed.
Though the majority of teenagers don’t think they’re at risk of HIV, according to the MAC AIDS Fund, awareness regarding the virus is low, as well as prevention methods. Findings also revealed that only two-thirds of American teens knew that HIV is a sexually transmitted disease.
“I think kids live on a very short time horizon,” said Nancy Mahon, Global Executive Director of the MAC AIDS Fund and chairman of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, via the news organization.
Less than half of the states are up-to-date on their HIV testing and education. Twenty-two states and Washington D.C. require sex education in school while only 20 and D.C. mandate HIV education as well, according to the Guttmacher Institute.