A new study from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises that HIV tests for teens are introduced in most U.S. metropolises.
Back in 2006, more than a million Americans were living with HIV, and 5% of that total – around 55,000 – were aged between 13 and 24. Now, that number is on the rise. The AAP is recommending HIV tests for those teens aged 16 and above who live in an area where more than 0.1% of the population has been diagnosed with the virus.
Co-author of the AAP report Patricia Emmanuel, also a professor of pediatrics at the University of South Florida, says, “Our youth are having sex and our youth are getting HIV.”
The report, published this week in the journal Pediatrics, also advises routine screening at urgent-care clinics and emergency departments in high-prevalence areas. And it argues any teen tested for an STD should authomatically receive a HIV test.
The idea of routine HIV testing is not new. In 2006, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended testing for people aged between 13 and 64, but the U.S. Public Health Service did not endorse it, and many doctors ignored the advice due to cost-effectiveness.
But now the issue is back on the table, doctors are also being urged to talk to their teen patients more about the dangers of unsafe sexual behavior. As Emmanuel states:
“HIV is not just a grown-up disease. The greatest increase is in young gay men, mostly ethnic minorities. Many are 16, 17 and 18. They are not 13, but they are teenagers.”