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The kids have HIV and don't know it

The kids have HIV and don't know it

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a new Vital Signs report about HIV among youth in the United States. The kids are all right  infected, and most of them don't even know it.

About 50,000 people are infected with HIV each year, and 1 in 4 is 13 to 24 years old. Youth make up 7% of the more than 1 million people in the US living with HIV. About 12,000 youth were infected with HIV in 2010. The greatest number of infections occurred among gay and bisexual youth. Nearly half of all new infections among youth occur in African American males. 

 

About 1 in 4 (26%) of all new HIV infections is among youth ages 13 to 24 years. About 4 in 5 of these infections occur in males.

 

Over half (54%) of new infections among young gay and bisexual males are in African Americans.

 

About 87% of young males got HIV from male to- male sex, 6% from heterosexual sex, 2% from injection drug use and about 5% from a combination of male-to-male sex and injection drug use.

 

About 60% of youth with HIV do not know they are infected and so don’t receive treatment, putting them at risk for sickness and early death. These youth can also unknowingly pass HIV to others.

 

Gay and bisexual men are 40 times more likely to have HIV than other men. Research has shown that young gay and bisexual males who have sex with older partners are at a greater risk for HIV infection. This is because an older partner is more likely to have had more sexual partners or other risks, and is more likely to be infected with HIV.

 

Less than half (44%) of gay and bisexual males in high school used condoms the last time they had sex.  

I had an HIV test last week at HIM (Health Initiative for Men). It's on the fourth floor of 1033 Davie St. Check out the website for more information. They can do tests for all STDs, and it takes only minutes to take their rapid HIV test and get your results. They squeeze a few drops of blood from your finger to perform the test, which is easy and efficient. The HIM staff is there to answer any of your questions and give you their support. They are kind, discreet and a strong, supportive force for our community. They cater to gay men and their specific health needs, making the process if not enjoyable, at least comfortable.

I feel like the majority of my sexual partners try to get me to engage in unprotected sex. It troubles me, especially when I'm with a partner I just met online or at the club (sorry, Mom: the hard, cold truth is I not only take the candy from the stranger, but fuck his brains out, too). Often, someone who just met me, and doesn't know anything about my health or sexual history, wants to engage in high-risk behaviour, gambling with both our lives. This can be intimidating, especially if I've had a few drinks, because as the CDC report confirms, those who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs are more likely to submit to unprotected sex. I've also had partners try to bully me into have bareback sex by whispering sweet and sexy(ish) pleas. As a result of this "pillow talk," I've been in a position where I want to give in and be with someone in such an uninhibited way and feel torn between my morals and my desire. And I resent being backed against that wall. Someone's decision to be safe should always be respected. There should never be "But I was just tested last month" or "I'll pull out" promises. There should only be understanding, followed by the opening of a condom, which HIM hands out free like they're going out of style. Oh, wait . . .

I'm being honest about my thoughts and concerns because I'm young, and I hope other young people (or the people who sleep with them) can relate, or learn something from how I feel. Too many people have confused and dangerous mindsets when it comes to HIV and bareback sex.

If you don't believe me, then believe the statistics. Unfortunately, they don't lie.

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