NewYork, 10 April. April 10th is National Youth HIV &
AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD). NYHAAD is the first annual observance day set
aside to recognize the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on young people.
National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD)
serves as a reminder that investing in young people’s health and education is a
critical step to achieving an AIDS-free generation. This annual observance was
created in 2013 by partners to educate the public about the impact of HIV/AIDS
Youth in the United States
In the United States, 1 in 5 new HIV diagnoses were among
young people aged 13-24 years. Getting
tested for HIV is an important step toward prevention; however, testing rates
among high school students remain low. Only 9% of U.S. high school students
have ever been tested for HIV.
The recently released YRBS Data Summary and Trends Report
Cdc-pdf[16.7 MB] focuses on four priority areas closely linked to HIV and
sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including sexual behavior, high-risk
substance use, violence victimization, and mental health over the past decade.
This report shows that although overall students are making better decisions
about their health, there are still too many students reporting risky sexual
behaviors, high-risk substance use, violence victimization, and poor mental health.
Sexual Risk Behaviors among Youth
From 2007 to 2017, CDC data show declines in sexual risk
behaviors among youth, including fewer currently sexually active high school
students. The proportion of high school students who ever had sex decreased from
48% in 2007 to 40% in 2017.
Still, the prevalence of some behaviors remains high and
puts young people at risk. For instance, condom use among sexually active
students decreased from 62% in 2007 to 54% in 2017, presenting a serious health
risk for HIV and STDs. Additionally,
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. It is critical to use tailored approaches to reach
the youth at highest risk with the right interventions, in the right way, at
the right time.
Addressing HIV in youth requires that young people are
provided the tools they need to reduce their risk, make healthy decisions, and
get treatment and care if needed.
The Role of Schools
Schools play a critical role in promoting the health and safety of young people. The nation’s schools provide an opportunity for 56 million students to learn about the dangers of unhealthy behaviors and to practice skills that promote a healthy lifestyle. Because schools reach millions of students in grades 9-12 every day, they are in a unique position to help young people adopt behaviors that reduce their risk for HIV, STDs, pregnancy and other related problems.
Some ways to encourage youth to stay healthy are to teach
them about HIV/AIDS and other STDs, promote communication between youth and
their parents, and support student access to confidential HIV counseling and
testing services. Schools are also important partners in supporting HIV testing
How can schools encourage students to get tested for HIV?
Use health risk behavior data to prioritize needs
Teach students about HIV and other STDs
Connect students to health services that include HIV testing
Encourage students and their parents to talk about HIV