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National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day: Addressing the Challenges

Did you know:

  • Youth (13 to 24-year-olds) are more likely than any other age group to have undiagnosed HIV.
  • Youth have lower viral suppression rates than other age groups.
  • Only 11% of youth age 16 to 24 who could benefit from PrEP were prescribed PrEP in the U.S.

(Information: Centers for Disease Control)       

Sunday, April 10, is National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a day to focus on the impact of HIV/AIDS on young people and the work that youth are doing to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Youth ages 13 to 24 make up around 21% of new HIV diagnoses, according to the CDC. Various socioeconomic factors contribute to disproportionately high rates of HIV among young people including stigma and bullying, which may prevent them from testing, disclosing their HIV status, and seeking HIV care or prevention services. Young people also experience barriers to HIV care or prevention, including living in households with low income levels, being recently incarcerated, or not having health insurance. Furthermore, LGBTQ youth experience homelessness at higher rates than non-LGBTQ youth for many reasons.

Inadequate sex education in schools is a major challenge in lessening the impact of HIV on young people. According to the CDC’s 2018 School Health Profiles, sex education in both middle and high schools has been declining over time in the U.S.

To truly fight the HIV epidemic among young people, they must have access to the information and resources they need to make healthy decisions, know their HIV status, access tools like PrEP to prevent HIV, and get treatment and stay in care if they are living with HIV. Several organizations, including the CDC, Advocates for Youth and American Psychological Association, are working toward this goal, but we can all be open and available to the young people in our lives, to support them any way we can.

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