December 3, 2010
The Rochester area is seeing a growing proportion of HIV cases diagnosed in patients younger than 25. Through September, nearly half of new HIV diagnoses in Monroe County this year were in patients under age 25, up from 14 percent during 2007. Patients under age 25 accounted for 27 of 60 HIV cases recorded in the first nine months of this year.
"I'm very concerned about the possibility that this epidemic will become an epidemic of teenagers and young adults," county Department of Public Health Director Dr. Andrew Doniger said at a news conference. "This generation of young people really doesn't remember how troubling this epidemic has been and how it has been described over the past 30 years."
Effective Sept. 1, state law requires that anyone between 13 and 64 seeking hospital or primary care services be offered an HIV test, with an opt-out provision. The law requires a provider ask only once, so patients are encouraged to bring up the issue if their circumstances change, said Nancy Adams, Monroe County Medical Society's executive director.
Minors do not need parental consent for an HIV test, and teens comprise a large proportion of the county's free STD/HIV clinic clientele, said clinic director Dr. Marguerite Urban.
Like many other HIV-care providers, Urban said she is concerned that the efficacy of HIV drugs has tempered the urgency for HIV prevention and testing. "We have a new generation that wasn't born or is too young to know the kind of casualties AIDS caused early in the epidemic," she said.