According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), young people ages 13-29 years old account for 39 percent of all new HIV infections in 2009. HIV is an infection that could turn into AIDS if untreated. In the U.S., HIV is spread by having unprotected sex-anal or vaginal- or by sharing drug-use equipment with someone who is infected. The 2009 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that many youths begin having sexual intercourse at a young age. 46 percent of high school students have had sexual intercourse, and 5.9 percent reported having sex before the age of 13. A question on the survey asked if the respondent had had intercourse during the three months before the survey, and 34.2 percent of the students did. Of that number, 38.9 percent did not use a condom. Similarly, data from the CDC has shown that young gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM), especially minority MSM, have high rates of new HIV infections.
So, what can be done about the increasing amount of HIV infections?
EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION!
The only way to avoid HIV is to abstain from all sex and drug use, but we need to realize that this is not a reasonable method for adolescents. Adolescents need accurate information on HIV and AIDS, they need to know how to reduce or eliminate the risks of getting HIV, they need to know how to talk to their partner about safe sex, how to properly use a condom, and where to get tested for HIV. We need to take away the stigma of HIV and getting tested so that young people are not scared to ask for help if they need it.
To find an HIV testing site, go to: http://locator.aids.gov/