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In Brief: Rationale for School-Centered HIV/STD Prevention for Young Men Who Have Sex with Men (YMSM) for PS13-1308

Compared with HIV infections in the general population, HIV infections among young men who have sex with men (YMSM) continue to be disproportionately high, especially in communities of color. In 2010 —

  • One-quarter (25.7%) of all new HIV infections were among youth aged 13–24, and YMSM accounted for almost three-quarters (72.1%) of all new HIV infections in that age group.
  • More than half of all the HIV infections among YMSM aged 13–24 were among African Americans (54.4%) and approximately one-fifth were among Latinos (21.6%).

Increasing attention has been given to the HIV prevention needs of YMSM; however, these efforts have largely focused on young adults rather than on adolescents. Although teen YMSM (13–19 years old) have typically received HIV prevention services from community-based organizations (CBOs) that focus primarily on runaway or out-of-school youths, YMSM who are in school also are at risk for HIV infection.

CDC recommends that all adolescents and adults aged 13–64 get routine HIV testing and MSM get HIV testing at least annually. Although many adolescents engage in sexual behaviors that place them at risk for HIV infection, relatively few have been tested for HIV. According to 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey results, only 22% of sexually experienced high school students had ever been tested for HIV. These statistics highlight the need for programs targeted specifically for teen YMSM with a focus on increasing their access to sexual health services and decreasing sexual risk behaviors.

Schools can connect YMSM to HIV and STD testing and other sexual health services in their communities, and some schools can offer those services directly to youth. In addition, evidence-based interventions (EBIs) that were developed for other populations of youth, or for young adult YMSM, can be adapted to reduce HIV risk among teen YMSM. Because YMSM are more likely to miss school or drop out, a core component of an HIV prevention program for teen YMSM is creating safe and supportive environments for all students.

Further information on the rationale for school-centered HIV/STD prevention for young men who have sex with men, including a comprehensive summary (with text references and related definitions), is available at YMSM Rationale [pdf 526K].


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