The majority of teenage boys most at risk for developing human imunodeficiency virus (HIV) are not being tested for the disease, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study. This lack of testing feeds the growing epidemic of undiagnosed HIV infections in the United States.
An estimated 14.5 percent of HIV infections in the U.S. are undiagnosed, but among 13- to 24-year-olds, the undiagnosed rate is more than 3.5 times greater (51.4 percent).
The study found:
The findings were published February 11 in the journal Pediatrics.
“Doctors – pediatricians in particular – need to be having more frank and open conversations with their male teenage patients, including a detailed sexual history and a discussion about sexual orientation – ideally a private conversation without parents present,” said first and senior author Dr. Brian Mustanski, director of the Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing (ISGMH) at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a member of the Institute for Public Health and Medicine at Northwestern. “If parents ask their teen’s provider to talk about sexual health and testing, this may be enough to start that key dialogue in the exam room, leading to an HIV test.”Friday Letter Submission, Publish on February 28