Why Is HIV Spiking Among Young People?

HIV Continues to Rise Among Youth

This past December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed its latest report on newly diagnosed HIV infections in the United States.

The latest data, as shown in the HIV Surveillance Report, shows new diagnoses have decreased through the Black, Latinx, and white communities, but according to USA Today have risen among young gay identified males ages 13 to 14 and among male youth in general aged 24-29.

While HIV-positive live much longer, HIV prevalence has reached an all time high — over 950,000 people.

"Our nation’s HIV surveillance systems have advanced a long way since the early days of the epidemic, both in terms of how data is collected and how it is analyzed and reported,” Eugene McCray, director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, said in a statement. “Today, most states report complete information on HIV cases to CDC - including the person’s age, race/ethnicity, arisk factors and even their HIV viral load at the time they are diagnosed. Removing duplicate cases takes much less time than it used to, and new technology means we can process large quantities of data much more quickly."

In 2015, men who have sex with men had the highest number of new diagnoses — 26,000 people in comparison to 3,000 people who acquired HIV through heterosexual sex. Additionally, the study found 1,400 new cases who acquired HIV through injected drug use. 

According to Dr. Perry N. Halkitis, Professor of Global Public Health, Applied Psychology, and Medicine at New York University, data for the younger ages is hard to come by but, "The period of adolescence and young adulthood is one of exploration for all including young gay men. But for young gay men the risk of HIV is much more likely than for their heterosexual male peers. Recent documented increases in HIV at younger ages for gay men may be due to many factors including but not limited to sexual debut at a younger age, misinformation about risk, lack of same sex education, and barriers to access condoms and PrEP."

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