Why Aren't Young Adults Getting Screened For HIV?

So many of us don't go for an STI screening as often as we should and it turns out the problem is really bad among the young and sexually active. A new study in Pediatrics journal has found that teens and young adults who are sexually active are not being tested for HIV as much as they should be. Apparently the study was "hoping to update earlier studies that found abysmal low rates among both groups", according to Medical Daily, but actually found that rates of getting tested were the same or worse than they had been in 2005. They found that there was "no increase in testing among young adult males and decreased testing among young adult black females is concerning given their higher risk of HIV infection."

They found that only about 22 percent of sexually active teens have been screened for HIV. In the slightly older age group, 18-24, it was still only 33 percent. And I'm not talking being tested regularly or even after every new partner —I'm talking about having been tested. Ever. Like once.

It's really not good. Especially with the increased recommendations of HIV testing among young people which, the authors found, are pretty much just not doing any good. "These results indicate that recommendations to screen all adolescents and young adults for HIV infection, regardless of risk, have not been widely implemented," the study authors wrote.

All of the stats they found were pretty worrying, here's what else they learned:

1. Those With 4+ Sexual Partners Had Slightly Better Rates

Of the teens, those who had more than four sexual partners had a 34 percent HIV screening rate. Which is better than 22, but a long way off from where it needs to be.

2. Fewer Males Went For Screenings

There was actually a 10 percent gender gap. While 27 percent of females had gone for testing only 17 percent of male students had been screened.

3. Black Female Teens Had The Highest Rate

Although, as I had mentioned, the rates for black females had dropped, it was still the highest. On average 36 percent of black female students looked at had been screened.

4. Only 50 Percent Of Young People Who Get HIV Are Aware Of It

If you're not getting screened, you don't know. And one in two young people are even aware they are HIV positive.

5. But It May Be That Doctors Aren't Suggesting It

Like I said, the authors worry that the screening recommendations aren't being implemented. In fact, "many primary care providers weren’t aware of these recommendations — in one study, even as high as 80 percent," reports Medical Daily. Which is a big problem, because, especially among the young, you probably defer to what your doctor thinks a lot of the time. The authors explained:

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 percentage of adolescents and young adults living with HIV infection.

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