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HIV Among Youth

April 8, 2016

Fast Facts
  • Youth aged 13 to 24 accounted for more than 1 in 5 new HIV diagnoses in 2014.
  • Young gay and bisexual males accounted for 8 in 10 HIV diagnoses among youth in 2014.
  • At the end of 2012, 44% of youth ages 18 to 24 years living with HIV did not know they had HIV.

HIV Among Youth

In 2014, youth aged 13 to 24 accounted for an estimated 22% of all new HIV diagnoses in the United States. Most of those occurred among young gay and bisexual males. Young black/African American1 and Hispanic/Latino2 gay and bisexual males are especially affected. Youth with HIV are the least likely out of any age group to be linked to care. Addressing HIV in youth requires that we give youth the tools they need to reduce their risk, make healthy decisions, get treatment and care if needed, and communicate effectively with others.

The Numbers

HIV and AIDS Diagnoses3

Estimated New HIV Diagnoses Among Youth Aged 13-24 in the United States, by Race/Ethnicity and Sex, 2014

The DMV Balenciaga House Meeting

Source: CDC. Diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States and dependent areas, 2014. HIV Surveillance Report 2015;26.

Living With HIV and Deaths

Prevention Challenges

Inadequate Sex Education. The status of sexual health education varies substantially throughout the United States and is insufficient in many areas according to CDC's 2014 School Health Profiles. In most states, fewer than half of high schools teach all 16 critical topics that CDC recommends for inclusion in curriculums. Specifically, many curricula do not include prevention information that relates to the needs of young gay and bisexual men. In addition, sex education is not starting early enough: in no state did more than half of middle schools meet goals put forth by CDC. Finally, sex education has been declining over time across the country. The percentage of US schools in which students are required to receive instruction on HIV prevention decreased from 64% in 2000 to 41% in 2014.

2013 data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBS), which monitors health risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death and disability among youth reveal:

High rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Some of the highest STD rates are among youth aged 20 to 24, especially youth of color. The presence of another STD greatly increases a person's likelihood of getting or transmitting HIV.

Stigma around HIV. In a 2012 Kaiser Family Foundation survey, 84% of youth aged 15 to 24 said there is stigma around HIV in the United States, which means they may not be comfortable discussing their status with others and agreeing on measures to protect themselves and their partners. For gay and bisexual youth who are just beginning to explore their sexuality, homophobia can pose obstacles to HIV testing and treatment.

Feelings of isolation. Gay and bisexual high school students may engage in risky sexual behaviors and substance abuse because they feel isolated and lack support. They are more likely to experience bullying and other forms of violence, which can lead to mental distress and engagement in risk behaviors that are associated with getting HIV.

What CDC Is Doing

CDC uses a multifaceted approach to meet the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States: Updated to 2020:


  1. CDC. HIV Surveillance Report 2014, vol. 26. Published November 2015. Accessed March 2016.
  2. CDC. Monitoring selected national HIV prevention and care objectives by using HIV surveillance data -- United States and 6 dependent areas -- 2013. Published July 2015. Accessed November 2016.
  3. Kaiser Family Foundation. National survey of teens and young adults on HIV/AIDS. November 1, 2012. Accessed March 2016.
  4. CDC. Vital Signs: HIV infection, testing, and risk behaviors among youths -- United States. MMWR 2012;61(No. SS-4). Accessed March 12, 2016.
  5. CDC. Youth risk behavior surveillance -- United States, 2013. MMWR 2014;61(No. SS-63(4). Accessed March 2016.
  6. CDC. Sexually transmitted disease surveillance, 2013. Accessed March 12, 2016.
  7. Committee on Pediatric AIDS. Policy statement: reducing the risk of HIV infection associated with illicit drug use. Pediatrics 2006;117(2):566-71.Accessed March 12, 2016.
  8. CDC. HIV and young men who have sex with men. June 2012. Accessed November 12, 2013.Accessed March 12, 2016.
  9. Just the Facts Coalition. Just the facts about sexual orientation and youth: a primer for principals, educators, and school personnel. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association; 2008. Accessed March 2016.
  10. CDC. School Health Policies and Practices Study.
  11. SAMHSA. Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings. September, 2014. Accessed March 2016.
  12. CDC. Sexual identity, sex of sexual contacts, and health-risk behaviors among students in grades 9-12--youth risk behavior surveillance, selected sites, United States, 2001-2009. MMWR 2011; 60(7): 1:33

Additional Resources

1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636)

CDC HIV Website

CDC Act Against AIDS Campaign


  1. Referred to as black in this fact sheet.
  2. Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race.
  3. HIV and AIDS diagnoses indicate when a person is diagnosed with HIV or AIDS, but do not indicate when the person was infected.
  4. In 27 states and the District of Columbia (the areas with complete lab reporting by December 2014).

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