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Local and Community News

New York City: Getting Teens Tested

June 26, 2003

With hip-hop music, kids who "keep it real," and free movie tickets on board, the Gettin' Busy van rolls through the Bronx this week, hoping to get borough teens tested for HIV. Sponsored by the Adolescent AIDS Program of the Children's Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center, the van will visit neighborhoods at the highest risk for HIV/AIDS to test teens for the disease, pass out condoms and talk about the importance of safer sex.

Of the 40,000 new HIV infections every year nationwide, 20,000 occur in people between ages 13 and 24. "I don't think it's a known fact that half of all new infections occur in young people," said Dr. Donna Futterman, director of AAP. "Rarely do young people feel that prevention and testing are important. It's not on the radio, it's not on the hip-hop shows."

The Bronx has the second highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the five boroughs, following Manhattan, according to the New York City Health Department. In some neighborhoods, the rates are the highest in the city, Futterman said.

Teen volunteers will walk around targeted neighborhoods to talk about the need for testing and prevention. Confidential testing, done with a swab of the inside of the mouth to collect saliva, is free and is administered in the van by the volunteers. Jessica Rivera, 23, a youth advocate with the program, said it is easier for teens to talk with other teens about the disease and how to practice safe sex.

Futterman said teens often misunderstand HIV, believing it is either a death sentence or an easily treated illness. Both misconceptions are dangerous, she said, because they can result in teens either avoiding HIV tests out of fear or not practicing safe sex because they have no fear. "We want kids to know they don't want to get it; it's not easy to treat," Futterman said. "But if they do have it, there are options for treatment."

Back to other CDC news for June 26, 2003

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Daily News (New York City)
06.22.03; Sondra Wolfer

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
10 Common Fears About HIV Transmission
More About HIV Testing in New York