Of the nearly 48,000 new HIV cases identified in the United States in 2010, the latest year for which complete data are available, more than 12,000 involved teens and young adults, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found in its latest report.
About 72 percent of these new HIV cases in younger adults occurred in young men who are gay or bisexual, according to the CDC report.
The report comes as officials, researchers and activists gear up for World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, with U.S. and global organizations releasing a stream of reports about the state of the pandemic, while anti-AIDS activists staged an attention-grabbing protest on Capitol Hill.
A group of seven activists — four men and three women — appeared in House Speaker John A. Boehner’s office and stripped naked to protest potential funding cuts to AIDS programs. U.S. Capitol Hill police arrested some of the protesters, who had painted words on their bodies like “AIDS cuts kill.” Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, was not in the office at the time.
According to the CDC figures, black youths accounted for the largest share of new HIV cases, with Hispanic youths and white youths accounting for about 20 percent each.
About 60 percent of these young people do not know they are infected, which means they don’t get treatment for themselves, nor are they aware of their risks for transmitting the disease to others, said CDC director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden.
“That so many young people become infected with HIV each year is a preventable tragedy,” said Dr. Frieden. “All young people can protect their health, avoid contracting and transmitting the virus, and learn their HIV status.”
Public health officials are calling for more “routine” — but not mandatory — HIV testing for youths in medical settings, as well as in schools and community centers.
There is also a call for more HIV/AIDS education in general, and prevention and testing programs targeting certain populations of at-risk youths. http://tinyurl.com/cxwnz7y