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Teens not tested for HIV as often as recommended

Less than a quarter of sexually active high school students have been tested, and only one-third of students overall have been screened, despite longstanding recommendations.
By Stephen Feller   |   Jan. 19, 2016 at 4:17 PM

ATLANTA, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Less than a quarter of all sexually active high school students in the United States have been tested for HIV, a number that has not changed in a decade despite efforts to increase screening for the disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the number of students being screened is significantly low and show recommendations for all teenagers to be tested have not been widely implemented.

Joining the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics in December recommended all teens be screened for HIV and AIDS starting between age 16 and 18.

The somewhat controversial suggestion was added to the group's health screening guidelines based on roughly 1 out of 4 new HIV infections occurring in people aged 13 to 24, with nearly half of them unaware they have been infected.

"These results indicate that recommendations to screen all adolescents and young adults for HIV infection, regardless of risk, have not been widely implemented," researchers wrote in the study, which is published in the journal Pediatrics.

CDC researchers analyzed data collected as part of the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey from 2005 to 2013 and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System from 2011 to 2013.

During the two time periods, an average of 22 percent of high school students who had sex -- 17 percent male and 27 percent female -- and 33 percent of teenagers overall had been tested for HIV. About 27 percent of males were tested during the time frame, however percentages of women being tested decreased between 2011 and 2013 from 42.4 percent to 39.5 percent. A larger drop was seen among black women, from 68.9 percent to 59.9 percent, than among white women, who decreased from 42.4 percent to 39.5 percent.

The researchers noted a doctor or other healthcare provider suggesting an HIV test increased the chance of it happening, one method they said could help improve screening rates.

"Multi-pronged testing strategies, including provider education, system-level interventions in clinical settings, adolescent-friendly testing services, and sexual health education will likely be needed to increase testing and reduce the percenlinktage of adolescents and young adults living with HIV infection," the researchers said in a press release.

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