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The Real Reason Gay Teens Aren't Getting Tested for HIV

Teens

According to a new national study conducted by Northwestern Medicine and the Center for Innovative Public Health Research, gay teens aren't getting tested for HIV. Despite having some of the highest risks for becoming HIV-positive, only one in five young men who has sex with men have ever been tested.

 The study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, reports that the greatest barriers to bisexual, gay and queer teen males in getting tested are: not knowing where to go to get an HIV test, fears about being recognized at a testing site and, to a lesser degree, having an unrealistic sense of the chances they'll become infected .

In 2014 researchers enrolled a diverse group of 302 gay, bisexual and queer-identified males ages 14-18 into a text messaging-based HIV prevention program know as Guy2Guy or G2G. Enrollees were questioned about their HIV-testing behaviors. The researchers found only 20 percent of the teen boys had ever been tested for HIV, a rate much lower than for their adult counterparts.

For example, a 2008 national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-sponsored study of men who have sex with men found 75 percent of men ages 18 to 19 reported they had been tested for HIV,

The new findings suggest testing rates could be increased by providing young men with an easy access to HIV testing centers or at home testing kits.  

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

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