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New National Resource Center to Prevent HIV/AIDS among Adolescents

OAH LogoThe Office of Adolescent Health (OAH), with funding from the Secretarys Minority AIDS Initiative Fund, is pleased to announce a new resource center solely focused on the prevention of HIV/AIDS among adolescents.  Launched on June 25, 2012, the center provides a central, online location for youth-serving professionals to access training, technical assistance, information exchange, and a resource library of published literature and evidence-based programs and practices in adolescent HIV prevention.

Adolescents…Really?
Despite stable rates of HIV diagnosis in older populations, the rate of HIV diagnoses from 2006 to 2009 increased in young people 15-19 and 20-24 years of age and was highest in the 20-24 year-old age group (36.9 per 100,000).[1] Undiagnosed HIV cases are thought to be high among young people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2009 estimates indicate that the proportion of those living with HIV infection who had undiagnosed HIV is greatest among youth age 13-24 years (59.5%) as compared to adults (25-34 years: 28.1%; 35-44 years: 15.4%; 45-54 years: 11.2%; 55-64 years: 10.6%; and ≥65 years: 11.3%).[2] In the 40 states and five dependent areas with confidential name-based reporting, about one-third (33.6%) of estimated diagnoses of HIV infection in 2009 occurred in adolescents and young adults age 13-29 years.[3] Although 13-19 year-olds represented only 4.8% of new HIV diagnoses, it is likely that some 20-24 year-olds and 25-29 year-olds (14.7% and 14.1% of new diagnoses, respectively) may have become infected with HIV during their teen years. [4]  Among men who have sex with men those 13–24 years of age had the greatest percentage increase (53%) in diagnoses of HIV infection from 2006 through 2009.[5]  The disproportionate impact of HIV on racial/ethnic minorities is particularly evident in the 13-19 year age group, with 72% of new HIV diagnoses occurring in African American and 13.8% in Latino teens.[6] These statistics highlight the importance of adolescent-focused HIV prevention, particularly for minorities and LGBT youth.

Recognizing these troubling trends, the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) notes that to achieve the goal of reducing new HIV infections, it is important that all Americans have access to a common baseline of information about the current HIV epidemic. This includes knowing how HIV is transmitted and prevented, and knowing which behaviors place individuals at greatest risk for infection. The NHAS calls for providing and promoting appropriate HIV and STI infection prevention education for all Americans to effectively encourage people across the age span to take steps to reduce their risk for infection. The Strategy specifically affirms that “educating young people about HIV before they begin engaging in behaviors that place them at risk for HIV infection should be a priority” and acknowledges roles for both parents and schools in providing this education.

Opportunities for Prevention among Adolescents
Consistent with the NHAS priority, HIV prevention efforts for adolescents must, of course, maintain a focus on keeping young people from becoming infected. To that end, it is important to provide youth access to a baseline of current and accurate information about the biological and scientific aspects of HIV that is grounded in the benefits of abstinence and delaying or limiting sexual activity, while ensuring that youth who make the decision to be sexually active have the information they need to take steps to protect themselves. In addition, there are still prevention opportunities for those who are living with HIV. Providing on-going care and counseling can impede the spread of the virus to others and increased access to testing and treatment especially for young people at highest risk will also help achieve prevention goals.  In addition, prevention, prompt diagnosis, and treatment of STDs — many of which peak during the late teens and early 20s — also reduces the risk of acquiring or transmitting HIV.

Yet our teens tend to be infrequent users of medical care and believe HIV infection will “never happen” to them. Healthcare and social service providers who work with young people can guide them to sources of teen-friendly and confidential HIV testing services and other resources.

The New Resource Center
To establish and operate the National Resource Center for HIV/AIDS Prevention among Adolescents, OAH awarded funding, through a competitive process, to the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center Exit Disclaimer at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s (UMDNJ) School of Nursing. UMDNJ has partnered with the University of California San Francisco’s Center for HIV Information and the National Network of STD/HIV Prevention Training Centers, experts in the field of HIV/AIDS care and prevention, to extend the reach of the Center.

I invite you to visit www.preventyouthhiv.org Exit Disclaimer to learn more about opportunities for you to engage in and support effective evidence-based HIV prevention education for youth in your community.


[1]  CDC. HIV Surveillance Report, 2009; Volume 21. Published February 2011. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/surveillance/resources/reports/2009report/. Accessed June 13, 2011. Calculations based on information from 40 states and 5 dependent areas with confidential name-based HIV infection reporting, Table 3b.

[2] CDC. HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report, 2010; Volume 17, Number 3 (Part A). Published June 2012. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/surveillance/resources/reports/.Accessed June 22, 2012. Calculations based on information from 46 states and 5 dependent areas with confidential name-based HIV infection reporting, Table 5a.

[3] CDC. HIV Surveillance Report, 2009; Volume 21. Published February 2011. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/surveillance/resources/reports/2009report/. Accessed June 13, 2011. Calculations based on information from 40 states and 5 dependent areas with confidential name-based HIV infection reporting, Table 3b.

[4] CDC. HIV Surveillance Report, 2009; Volume 21. Published February 2011. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/surveillance/resources/reports/2009report/. Accessed June 13, 2011.

[5] CDC. HIV Surveillance in Men Who Have Sex with Men.  June 6, 2011. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/surveillance/resources/slides/msm/index.htm.  Accessed June 13, 2011

[6] Calculations based on information from Diagnoses of HIV Infection and AIDS in the United States and Dependent Areas, 2009 Table 3b. HIV Surveillance Report, Volume 21. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/surveillance/resources/reports/2009report/ Accessed June 13 2011.

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