AHF Joins Call to Mark April 10 as "National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day"
LOS ANGELES - (BUSINESS WIRE) - To support their recommendation that all people between the ages of 13-64 be tested for HIV routinely, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed new findings in October that showed one in three new HIV diagnoses are of young people between the ages of 13-24. As the first generation unfortunate enough to never know a world free of HIV/AIDS - and the first generation fortunate enough to never know an HIV-positive diagnosis as an immediate death sentence - youths facing the present-day battle against HIV/AIDS have a different perception of the disease that can create obstacles that endanger their health by keeping them from responsible care and prevention.
Today's youth were born into a world where HIV is both highly prevalent and easily managed through medical treatment, which in many fosters the notions that HIV "just happens," and that if a young person does one day test HIV-positive, they will just be able to get treatment. This leads to a relaxed attitude about avoiding contracting the virus in the first place, a devastating blow to proactive prevention like condom use and open conversations about sexual histories between partners.
Adding to this altered perception of HIV/AIDS is the baseless HIV stigma that is generated societally through misconceptions about the facts surrounding HIV/AIDS. Many believe the myth that HIV can be spread by simple hugging and kissing, which fosters unwarranted fear or hatred - and ultimately cruel discrimination - of people living with HIV. Terrified of being stigmatized, youths often avoid getting tested just to avoid the possibility of receiving a positive diagnosis. Avoiding testing leads to late diagnosis, which could make treatment less effective.
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