US: Most young gay men living with HIV don’t know they are infected

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New analysis published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that 60 per cent of young people infected with HIV do not know their status. It also found that 72 per cent of young people with HIV are men who have sex with men.

The new data shows that young people between the ages of 13 and 24 represent 26 per cent of new HIV infections each year and 60 per cent of these people do not know they are infected. UK charity THT has also stated that many young gay men do not know that they are living with HIV.

The report estimates that 12,200 new HIV infections occurred in 2010 among young people aged 13-24, with 72 per cent of estimated new HIV infections in young men who have sex with other men.

CDC’s Thomas Frieden said: “That so many young people become infected with HIV each year is a preventable tragedy. All young people can protect their health, avoid contracting and transmitting the virus, and learn their HIV status.”

The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics have previously called for routine HIV testing of youth but only 35 percent of 18-24 year olds have ever been tested for HIV.

The study also found that more young men who have sex with other men reported more than four recent sexual partners or have used illegal drugs. It also reported that most young men who have sex with men have had inadequate teaching of HIV/ AIDS in a school setting.

“We can and must achieve a generation that is free from HIV and AIDS,” said Dr Kevin Fenton National Center for HIV/AIDS at the CDC said. “It will take a concerted effort at all levels across our nation to empower all young people, especially young gay and bisexual youth, with the tools and resources they need to protect themselves from HIV infection.”