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National Youth HIV and Awareness Day: What You Need to Know

Friday April 10, 2020

While the world battles COVID-19, HIV continues to impact communities around the country. April 10 marks National Youth HIV & Awareness Day. It serves as an essential reminder to millennial and Gen Z youth to understand the importance of practicing safe sex and getting tested.

In the United States, 21 percent of new HIV diagnoses in 2018 were among young people aged 13-24 years. Eighty-seven percent of youth who received a new HIV diagnosis were young men and 13 percent were young women. Getting tested for HIV is an important step toward prevention; however, testing rates among high school students remain low. Only 9 percent of U.S. high school students have ever been tested for HIV.

The Good News
From 2007 to 2017, CDC data showed declines in sexual risk behaviors among high school students, including fewer who are currently sexually active. The percentage of high school students who ever had sex decreased from 48 percent in 2007 to 40 percent in 2017. However, many young people engage in health-related behaviors that can result in unintended outcomes.

The Bad News
Declines in condom use: Condom use among sexually active students decreased from 62 percent in 2007 to 54 percent in 2017, presenting a serious health risk for HIV and STDs.

Substance use and high-risk behaviors: Young people may engage in high-risk behaviors, such as sex without a condom or medicine to prevent or treat HIV, when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Nationwide, 19 percent of all students who are currently sexually active (had sexual intercourse during the previous three months) and 20 percent of male students who had sexual contact with other males drank alcohol or used drugs before their most recent sexual intercourse.

Some young people are at higher risk: Some young people, including lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth, often remain at greater risk for negative health outcomes. For example, 15 percent of LGBTQ students have had sex with four or more partners during their life, compared to 9 percent of heterosexual students.

A Call to Action
Young people need to understand their risk and know how to protect themselves against HIV.

Get educated. Learn the basic facts about HIV transmission, testing, and prevention.

Get talking. Talk with parents, teachers, doctors, and other trusted adults about HIV and sexual health.

Get tested for HIV. CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 years get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. Contact your health care provider about testing.

Get medicine. If you test positive for HIV, get support, seek treatment, and stay in care to remain healthy and prevent passing the virus to others.

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