North Carolina: HIV Cases Up Among Area Youths
May 25, 2004
A small but slowly increasing number of Charlotte-area teens and adolescents are HIV-positive, reflecting an increase of HIV in the Carolinas and throughout the South. New HIV cases increased among North Carolina youths ages 13-19 from 35 cases in 2001 to 57 in 2003, and among 20- to 24-year-olds from 162 cases in 2001 to 184 in 2003.
In Mecklenburg County last year, 19 youths ages 13-19 were diagnosed with HIV, almost double from 2002 when 10 teens were found positive. Adolescents comprised 4 percent of new HIV cases. At least three new diagnoses involved crystal methamphetamine use.
Of 16 HIV-positive teen patients now seen at Carolinas Medical Center (CMC), one is Hispanic and the others are black. Four are boys who got HIV through sex with other boys. Of the 12 girls, six were pregnant -- many by older men -- when they learned their serostatus. The youngest girl, 12, reported having three or four sex partners. "The 15-year-old with the 29-year-old seemed to be the story I heard again and again," said Cindy Craig, a CMC social worker.
In an outbreak of HIV among black male college students earlier this year, health officials found that most were infected through sex with men. However, one-third reported having sex with men and women. "Adolescents are having sex with older guys," said Dr. Peter Leone of the state health department, the college study co-author.
While some interpret a decline in teen pregnancy to mean that more teens are abstaining from sex, "In many cases, adolescents are trying oral and anal sex as opposed to vaginal so they don't get pregnant," said Ben Ellington, former head of the Mecklenberg Council on Adolescent Pregnancy. Teens may not realize these activities still expose them to STDs, said Michelle Gay, the council's community health education director.
05.23.04; Karen Garloch
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.