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Youth, both male and female, have a higher risk for HIV infection. In 2014, more than 20% of new HIV cases in the U.S. were among individuals age 13 to 24. Adolescents are more vulnerable because they are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as unprotected sex and injection drug usage. One rural HIV/AIDS program noted social media has facilitated anonymous sex among adolescents in their community. Many young people living with HIV are unaware of their infection. Additionally, adolescents have the lowest rate of any age group to seek care after diagnosis. This also makes them an important population for outreach and screening.

Rural HIV/AIDS programs reported the need for education among the adolescent population. One rural program noted that there is a perception among adolescents in some rural communities that HIV/AIDS is no longer a problem or has been “cured.” Rural HIV/AIDS programs offer HIV 101 classes and education programs in regional high schools and universities. They also seek to reach adolescents in other settings such as health fairs and grocery stores.

A 2014 mixed method study found that nurses and healthcare professionals are important stakeholders in addressing misconceptions and HIV stigma among African American adolescents in the rural South.

Resources to Learn More

Young People, HIV/AIDS
Includes information and data about young people and HIV/AIDS.
Organization(s): AVERT

Black Southern Rural Adolescents' HIV Stigma, Denial, and Misconceptions and Implications for HIV Prevention
A discussion of the general psychological understanding of HIV among African American youth in the rural South. Includes suggestions of how to increase education and understanding in order to promote prevention rather than treatment.
Author(s): Piper, K., Enah, C., & Daniel, M.
Citation: Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, 52(6), 50-6
Date: 6/2014

HIV Transmission and Prevention in Adolescents
An overview of HIV among adolescents, including data and examples of effective programs in schools, clinics, and communities.
Author(s): Kirby, D., ETR Associates
Organization(s): HIV InSite
Date: 12/2002

Resource Center for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (ReCAPP)
Tools and information to reduce sexual risk-taking behaviors among adolescents. Includes evidence-based program examples, data and statistics, and learning activities for educators and youth.
Organization(s): ETR (Education, Training & Research)