More than half of the world’s population is under the age of 30 and has never lived in a time without AIDS. Despite the steady progress of our collective scientific and community efforts to end the HIV epidemic, the lives of young people continue to be especially vulnerable. To bring attention to this ongoing crisis and to commit ourselves to achieving an AIDS-free generation, today marks the first National Youth HIV and AIDS Awareness Day.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 50,000 people in the United States are infected with HIV each year. Of those, one in four is between 13 and 24 years old. Further, CDC reports that nearly 60 percent of new infections in youth occur in African Americans, 20 percent in Latinos and about 20 percent in whites. In 2010, CDC estimates that 87 percent of the 12,000 annual infections in youth occurred among gay and bisexual young men. Nearly half of all new infections among American youth occur in African American males.
In a CDC Vital Signs report released for World AIDS Day 2012, the agency noted that “about 60 percent of youth 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.”