Some recent reports on the news have said that doctors are urging regular HIV tests for teens 16 and older. There’s a lot of research behind this recommendation, so we wanted to dig in and find out exactly what it means for teens.
The new recommendation comes from the American Academy of Pediatrics, who are leaders in health recommendations for kids and teens. They found that in 2006, 1.1 million HIV-positive people were living in the U.S. and 5% of those were teens. Maybe that doesn’t seem like a lot, but teens are more reluctant to test for HIV, and as a result 1 out of 2 infected teens don’t know they have HIV, and are much more likely to spread it.
The first thing to note is that this new recommendation is for teens who are sexually active – that includes all types of sex, including intercourse. In particular, in areas where HIV is more common, it’s more important to get tested if you are sexually active. If you are having sex and haven’t been tested, it’s a good idea for you and your partner to both go so that you know your status. Knowledge is power and it will help you make better decisions in the future.
In addition, if a teen does test positive for HIV, they can begin treatment, which can help them live a long and healthy life. The sooner treatment starts, the better. They can also take more steps to help prevent the transmission of the virus.
The bottom line is, if you’re sexually active, it’s time to get tested. Make HIV and STD testing one of your 2012 resolutions and become a healthier you!