(Black PR Wire) Atlanta, GA -- April 10 is National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Young people need to know their HIV status as it gives them powerful information to stay healthy. Testing can connect youth who are negative to HIV prevention resources. Testing positive means connecting to health services and taking medicine to treat HIV. Taking HIV medicine as prescribed can make the amount of HIV in blood (viral load) very low—so low that a test can’t detect it (called an undetectable viral load). Getting and keeping an undetectable viral load is the best thing to do to stay healthy.
Sexual Risk Behaviors Can Lead to HIV, STDs and Teen Pregnancy
From 2007 to 2017, CDC data showed declines in sexual risk behaviors among high school students, including fewer who are currently sexually active. The percentage of high school students who ever had sex decreased from 48% in 2007 to 40% in 2017. However, many young people engage in health-related behaviors that can result in unintended outcomes.
- Declines in condom use: Condom use among sexually active students decreased from 62% in 2007 to 54% in 2017, presenting a serious health risk for HIV and STDs.
- Substance use and high-risk behaviors: Young people may engage in high-risk behaviors, such as sex without a condom or medicine to prevent or treat HIV, when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Nationwide, 19% of all students who are currently sexually active (had sexual intercourse during the previous 3 months) and 20% of male students who had sexual contact with other males drank alcohol or used drugs before their most recent sexual intercourse.
- Some young people are at higher risk: Some young people, including lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth, often remain at greater risk for negative health outcomes. For example, 15% of LGB students have had sex with four or more partners during their life, compared to 9% of heterosexual students.
Addressing HIV in youth requires that young people are provided the skills they need to reduce their risk, make healthy decisions, and get treatment and care if needed.
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