Teens and Testing
Over a third of new HIV infections in 2006 occurred among those aged 13 to 29. This is the highest percentage of any age group. One reason for this may be found in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey of U.S. high school students, done from 1991 through 2007. It found that the percentage of students who used a condom during their last se xual encounter has not changed since 2003. This breaks the trend of increased use from the previous 12 years. The survey also reported that over 10% of students were not ever taught about HIV in school, while nearly half of all 15 to 18 year olds say they are sexually active.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unwanted pregnancies are also worrisome. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that over 9 million young people (15 to 24 years old) were infected with at least one STI in 2000. This represents nearly half of all new cases. Unfortunately, less than a third of teens 15 to 17 years old have been tested for an STI. According to the CDC, 25% of teenage girls have at least one of the four most common STIs. This is not surprising given the Kaiser findings that nearly 25% of female teens and 18% of male teens reported not using any method of contraception during their first sexual encounter.
In 2006, the CDC revised its rules on HIV testing. The rules recommend routine HIV screening for all people aged 13 to 64. The recommendations also state that such screening must be voluntary, with the patient's full knowledge and consent. In 2008, The American College of Physicians urged doctors to screen all patients 13 and older for HIV, whether or not they engage in risky behaviors.
According to a 2009 report from the Guttmacher Institute, all 50 states and the District of Columbia allow minors to be tested for STIs with their consent. But consent laws differ by state. HIV testing and treatment is included within STI services in 31 states where minors can consent. Additionally, 18 states allow doctors to inform parents of a minor's HIV-positive test result. Iowa requires such notification.
Eleven states have specific age limits for STI services:
12 years and over: Alabama, California, Delaware, Illinois,Vermont
14 years and over: Hawaii, Idaho, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Washington
16 years and over: South Carolina
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