U.S. News

Few HIV-Positive Georgia Teenagers Aware of Risks of Sexual Activity, Study Says

April 21, 2004

Few HIV-positive teenagers in Georgia were aware of the risks involved in sexual activity, according to a study released Tuesday by CDC and Emory University researchers, the Augusta Chronicle reports. The researchers studied teens ages 13 to 19 who attended Grady Health System's Infectious Disease Program for Adolescents between 1999 and 2002. The researchers found that few of the 59 teens who tested positive for HIV understood the risk of disease associated with being sexually active (Augusta Chronicle, 4/21). Only four of the 59 teenagers who tested positive had requested the test -- most discovered their status through routine testing -- and 20% of the teens were diagnosed within six months of being infected. About 33% of the 35 women in the study were pregnant at the time of diagnosis (Yee, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 4/20). About 8% of the teens had developed AIDS by the time they were diagnosed, and 16 were diagnosed with other sexually transmitted diseases when they tested HIV-positive, according to the study. More than half of the men involved in the study were men who regularly had sex with men; all of the women in the study reported having sex with men (Augusta Chronicle, 4/21). Although most of the HIV-positive teens received treatment within two months of diagnosis, some did not receive care for up to 108 days after diagnosis, the researchers said (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 4/20). The study mainly involved urban black teens from an area of Atlanta with high poverty rates, but health officials said that all sexually active teens should be tested for HIV, according to the Chronicle (Augusta Chronicle, 4/21). "It's hard to get a handle on how many [cases] we're missing, but I think there's a large percentage that are getting missed," CDC researcher Althea Grant said. State health officials said that the small size of the study "may not provide a complete picture of adolescent HIV in the state," according to the AP/Sun. About one-quarter of the country's 40,000 new HIV cases each year occur among adolescents, the AP/Sun reports (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 4/21).

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