HIV and Young People

Status to Stay Healthy

Almost half of young people (aged 13-24) with HIV do not know they have the virus. 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 Pregnancy

From 2009 to 2019, 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 46% in 2009 to 38% in 2019. However, many youth engage in health risk behaviors and experiences that can result in unintended outcomes.

  • Declines in condom use: Condom use among sexually active students decreased from 61% in 2009 to 54% in 2019, presenting a serious health risk for HIV and STDs.
  • Substance use and high-risk behaviors: Youth may engage in high-risk behaviors, such as sex without a condom or not taking medicine to prevent or treat HIV, when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Nationwide, 27% of all students are currently sexually active (had sexual intercourse during the previous 3 months) and 21% of those students drank alcohol or used drugs before their most recent sexual intercourse.
  • Some youth are at higher risk: Some youth, including lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth, are at greater risk for negative health outcomes. For example, 11% of LGB students have had sex with four or more partners during their life, compared to 8% of heterosexual students. LGB students (4%) were also more likely to have ever injected any illegal drugs than heterosexual students (1%).

These data show there is work to be done to ensure that youth have the support they need to become healthy, successful adults. Addressing HIV in youth requires  providing them with the skills they need to reduce their risk, make healthy decisions, and get treatment and care if needed.

NYHAAD Toolkit

April 10th is National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD).

This toolkit contains information that is helpful in planning communication activities to inform and educate partners, stakeholders, and media about HIV among youth and the importance of HIV prevention, treatment and care of young people.

Campaign Resources
  • AIDS.govexternal icon
  • Let’s Stop HIV Together
Social Media
  • Twitter: @CDC_DASH
  • Facebook: CDC HIV
  • Pinterest: CDC Healthy Youth

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Schools Can Help Prevent HIV

Schools play a critical role in promoting the health and safety of youth. The nation’s schools provide an opportunity for 55 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 every day, they are in a unique position to help youth learn and adopt behaviors that reduce their risk for HI

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