April 10th Is National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day
April 10th is National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day; the first annual observance day set aside to recognize the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on young people.
National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day serves as a reminder that investing in young people's health and education is a critical step to achieving an AIDS-free generation. This annual observance was created in 2013 by Advocates for Youth and other partners to educate the public about the impact of HIV/AIDS on youth.
As CDC reports, in the United States, more than 1 in 5 new HIV diagnoses were in young people aged 13-24 years. Despite the disproportionate number of new HIV infections occurring among youth, the percentage tested for HIV is low compared to other age groups. Only 10% of sexually experienced U.S. high school students have ever been tested for HIV.
According to CDC data, from 2005 to 2015, show declines in sexual risk behaviors among teens, including fewer currently sexually active high school students. Still, the prevalence of some behaviors remains high and puts young people at risk. For instance, condom use has decreased among teens, with more than 40% of sexually active high school students not using a condom the last time they had sex.
Additionally, some teens, including lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) teens, often remain at greater risk for negative health outcomes. It is critical to use tailored approaches to reach the highest risk teens with the right interventions, in the right way, at the right time.
Addressing HIV in youth requires that young people are provided the tools they need to reduce their risk, make healthy decisions, and get treatment and care if needed.
Schools can play a critical role in promoting the health and safety of young people. Schools and other youth-serving organizations can help young people adopt behaviors that reduce their risk for HIV, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), pregnancy, and other related health problems. Some ways to encourage youth to stay healthy is to teach them about HIV/AIDS and other STDs, promote communication between youth and their parents, and support student access to confidential HIV counseling and testing services.