Youth and HIV/AIDS 2000: A New American Agenda
, a report released by The White House Office of National AIDS Policy, is a follow up to a 1996 report that named young people under 25 as a "generation at risk." This new report on the status of the epidemic among young people, acknowledges the progress made and calls for a reinvigorated national response to the problem.
HIV/AIDS and Young People
- Half of all new HIV infections are thought to occur in young people under the age of 25. Young Americans between the ages of 13 and 25 are contracting HIV at the rate of two per hour.
- An estimated 250,000 young Americans are unaware that they are infected with HIV.
- More than 123,000 young adults in the United States. have developed AIDS in their twenties. The majority of these young people were likely infected with HIV as teenagers.
- Of the 828 HIV infections reported among people 13 to 19 years of age in 1999, 65% occurred in females compared with 35% in males. Similarly, of the 2,386 HIV infections reported among people 20 to 24 years of age, 44% occurred in females compared with 55% in males.
- At least half of the HIV infections reported in 1999 among young men 13 to 24 years of age "resulted from exposure to the virus through sex with other men."
Youth of Color
- African-American and Latinos make up approximately 15% of U.S. teenagers. However, African-Americans account for 49% of AIDS cases ever reported (3,725) among those 13 to 19 years of age and Latinos account for 20% of these cases.
- Of the 4,796 HIV infections reported to date among 13 to 19 year olds, 67% are among African-American teens.
The authors note that since the release of the 1996 report significant progress has been made. Prevention and care programs for young people have been strengthened and research has generated new medical treatments. However, many young people who are infected with HIV or are at risk of HIV infection have not benefited from this progress. The report includes recommendations for prevention, care, and research.
- The federal government should ensure that adequate resources are targeted to youth-focused HIV-prevention programs, particularly prevention programs that target youth at highest risk for HIV infection.
- Community-based HIV-prevention services for youth should be widely available, coordinated with other services, and user-friendly. Such services should include condom availability for sexually active youth, STD education and screening, and drug-abuse treatment.
- The federal government should develop and implement an initiative to promote routine, voluntary HIV counseling and testing for "at-risk youth."
- The federal government should ensure that all HIV-infected youth have access to comprehensive, community-based health care and supportive services that address their medical and psychological needs.
- The federal government should ensure that appropriate resources are targeted to adolescent-specific HIV/AIDS research. This will require expanding the adolescent research infrastructure and building on existing efforts.
The authors conclude that "two tragic realities have not changed." Young people are still becoming infected each year and most of them are not receiving the medical care they need. The programs that provide HIV-prevention, care and support services to youth must be broader in vision, larger in scope, and better coordinated.
For more information:
The White House Office of National AIDS Policy, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., Washington, DC 20500; Phone: 202/456-1414; Fax: 202/456-2461; Web site: http://www.whitehouse.gov
The report can be downloaded as a PDF file at http://www.whitehouse.gov/ONAP/youth_report1.pdf