Sexual Health news - Sexual Health and Behavior

Teens born with HIV are not always aware of their status

There have been amazing strides made in the treatment and care of HIV over the past few decades, but proper education is still a major stumbling block for the sexually transmitted disease. According to a new study published in Clinician Infectious Diseases, nearly 20 percent of teens who were born with HIV engage in sexual activity without knowing their true disease status. With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting that almost 10,000 people in the United States are HIV positive at or before birth, the problem falls on physicians to educate parents and caregivers on how to disclose their children's HIV status, reported MedicalDaily.com.

"It is extremely important for healthcare providers, school counselors and family members to reinforce the importance of practicing safe sex, taking medication regularly and disclosing HIV status to potential partners," Rohan Hazra, M.D., co-author of the study and researcher at the pediatric, adolescent and maternal AIDS branch of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health told the news source.

According to The Washington Post, the study followed 330 HIV-positive individuals, with ages ranging from 10 to 18 years old, each of whom were asked several times about their sexual experiences. Surprisingly, 28 percent of those interviewed said they had had sexual intercourse at least once and more than half reported having unprotected sex. For the 67 individuals who answered questions about their HIV status, 12 did not know they had the disease before having sex and two thirds did not discuss their condition with their partners.

Ultimately, the study showed that there is a major crisis of communication for HIV-positive teens in both education and their understanding of their own condition. Hopefully with time, the medical community can educate parents about the importance of revealing their kids' true HIV status, as well as educating these young people to make healthier choices to protect themselves and their partners.
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