Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Real Deal: Facts About Youth and AIDS

"In the U.S., it is estimated that two young people (age 13-25) are infected with HIV each hour.[1]"

The people most affected by HIV and AIDS by in large, are those most marginalized by our political system: poor people, immigrants, and racial and ethnic minorities. Yet the struggle of those communities against HIV and AIDS remain largely invisible to the greater public. In the United States, rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as well as of unintended pregnancy are disproportionately high among youth of color, especially among black and Hispanic youth. Social, economic, and cultural barriers limit the ability of many youth of color to receive accurate and adequate information on preventing HIV, STIs, and unwanted pregnancy [2]. Youth of color experience higher rates of medical indigence than do white youth, and they more often confront financial, cultural, and institutional barriers in obtaining health care. For many youth of color, publicly funded health insurance provides limited access to comprehensive, adolescent-appropriate health services[3].
Through 2001, African Americans and Latinas accounted for 84 percent of cumulative AIDS cases among women ages 13 to 19 and 78 percent of cases among women ages 20 to 24.Through 2001, African Americans and Latinos accounted for 62 percent of cumulative AIDS cases among men ages 13 to 19 and 60 percent of cases among men ages 20 to 24[4]. In a study of African American women ages 13 to 19, 26 percent felt little control over whether or not a condom was used during intercourse; 75 percent agreed that, if a male knew a female was taking oral contraceptives, he would not want to use a condom; 66 percent felt that a male partner would be hurt, insulted, or suspicious if asked about his HIV risk factors[5].
Rates of HIV infection are disproportionately high among young women of color, especially those who are members of the working poor and, therefore, lack health insurance and easy access to health care. These young women need gender-specific and culturally appropriate HIV prevention programs[6].
Beyond The Odds: The Realities of Being Young and HIV Positive magnifies the impact that HIV and AIDS has had on low-income and minority youth by empowering HIV positive youth to produce timely, relevant and comprehensive coverage about HIV and AIDS. The “youth journalists” will attempt to open the discussion on this issue by relaying their personal experiences and insight. BTO will explore the intersections between the HIV/AIDS problem and racial and economic marginalization in communities of color, through photography, blogging and poetry.

1. Youth Report 200, White House Office of National Aids Policy
3. Office of Women's Health. Women of Color Health Data Book: Adolescents to Seniors. Bethesda, MD. National Institute of Health, 1998.
4. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report 2002.
5. Overby KJ, Kegeles SM. The impact of AIDS on an urban population of high-risk female minority adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health 1994; 15:216-227.
6. Office of Research Women's Health. Women of Color Health Data Book: Adolescents to Seniors. Bethesda, MD. National Institute of Health, 1998.