Today, April 10, 2016, is National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day. Why do we need a YOUTH awareness day? Because in 2014, nearly 10,000 young adults were newly diagnosed with HIV (age 13-24 years, 9731 cases). And that is only young people who got TESTED and therefore were DIAGNOSED. Nearly half of young people already living with HIV are UNAWARE that they are infected. In honor of this HIV Awareness Day, here are my quick HIV ABCs:
- A: ALL people ages 15-64 should be tested for HIV at least once, regardless of risk factors. Why?Widespread testing will help identify the estimated 1 in 8 people living with HIV infection who do not know their are infected, and now with our highly accurate rapid testing, false positives are extremely rare.
- B: BISEXUAL- meaning remember that HIV occurs in BOTH genders, as well as emphasizing the fact that HIV is most prevalent in gay, bisexual and other males who have sex with men (but not all MSM identify as gay or bisexual.) Nearly 20% of the 44,000 new HIV diagnoses in the US during 2014 were female, and the vast majority (87%) were infected through heterosexual sex.
- C: CONDOMS- "Safe Sex" means using condoms consistently and correctly, for all forms of penetrative intimacy. To be specific, use condoms for oral, anal and vaginal sex. (While oral sex is low risk for HIV transmission, other STIs such as gonorrhea and herpes simplex are easily transmitted this way.) Condoms do not make you bullet-proof, but they work extremely well -up to 98% decrease in transmission of HIV.
BOTTOM LINE: HIV has not disappeared, and many who are infected do not know. GET TESTED!