Addressing the Growing Diagnoses of Youth HIV

There are many myths about youth and HIV out there, one of the most prevalent being that HIV doesn’t impact youth in very large numbers. However, there is evidence that contradicts this notion: recently  data released from AIDSVu, a project of Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, found that HIV diagnosis are increasing for youth in the United States, with new cases of HIV reported for youth ages 13-24 accounting for more than 1 in 4 new diagnoses of HIV overall in 2015. The study continues that this is also a 2% increase from the previous year and is not in-line with the data trends of HIV overall, as new diagnoses fell by 18% across all ages between 2008 and 2015.

In light of this new data, we at YTH want to emphasize the importance of youth-focused HIV prevention work. YTH has a long history of designing youth-centered HIV prevention innovative programs starting as early as early 2000’s with our pioneering SexINFO initiative. Since then, we’ve created many programs and projects that have addressed the intersection of young people and HIV, including PrEPTECH, an online program and research study dedicated to to increasing pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) uptake among young gay and bi men.

In my work, I get to meet and interact with a diverse range of communities and one troubling belief among most people is that HIV is not really an issue for youth anymore. Nothing can be further from the truth” YTH’s Executive Director Bhupendra Sheoran said about this myth. He also emphasizes the need for youth-health providers to step up and address this disparity by going to youth, directly. “As providers, it’s critical that we utilize digital mediums that youth are most comfortable with to communicate how pervasive HIV still is among youth to get them to practice safe behaviors and get tested,” he advises.

If you’re looking to bring about change to this issue, we’re ready to hear your thoughts. “If you have an innovative idea in mind, contact us. We want to hear from you and build partnerships to serve youth,” Sheoran urges.

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