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HIV Among Youth

Group of diverse African Americans Youth in the United States account for a substantial number of HIV infections. Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men* account for most new infections in the age group 13 to 24; black/African American** or Hispanic/Latinoagay and bisexual men are especially affected. Continual HIV prevention outreach and education efforts, including programs on abstinence, delaying the initiation of sex, and negotiating safer sex for the spectrum of sexuality among youth—homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual, and transgender—are urgently needed for a new generation at risk.

* Referred to as gay and bisexual in this fact sheet. ** Referred to as black in this fact sheet.

The Numbers

New HIV Infectionsb (Aged 13-24)

  • In 2010, youth made up 17% of the US population, but accounted for an estimated 26% (12,200) of all new HIV infections (47,500) in the United States.
  • In 2010, young gay and bisexual men accounted for an estimated 19% (8,800) of all new HIV infections in the United States and 72% of new HIV infections among youth. These young men were the only age group that showed a significant increase in estimated new infections—22% from 2008 (7,200) through 2010 (8,800).
  • In 2010, black youth accounted for an estimated 57% (7,000) of all new HIV infections among youth in the United States, followed by Hispanic/Latino (20%, 2,390) and white (20%, 2,380) youth.

Estimates of New Infections Among Youth Aged 13-24 Years,
by Race/Ethnicity and Sex, United States, 2010

This chart shows the age distribution of diagnoses of HIV infection in the United States in 2011. There were 192 diagnoses of HIV among persons under the age of 13;

Source: CDC. Estimated HIV incidence among adults 1,000 0 Black/African American Males 2,100 Hispanic/ Latino Males 2,100 White Males 1,400 Black/African American Females 290 Hispanic/ Latina Females 280 White Females and adolescents in the United States, 2007–2010. HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report 2012;17(4).

HIV and AIDS Diagnosesc and Deaths Among Youth (Aged 13-24)

  • An estimated 9,961 youth were diagnosed with HIV infection in the United States in 2013, representing 21% of an estimated 47,352 people diagnosed during that year. Eighty-one percent (8,053) of these diagnoses occurred in those aged 20 to 24, the highest number of HIV diagnoses of any age group.
  • At the end of 2012, there were an estimated 62,400 youth living with HIV in the United States. Of these, 32,000 were living with undiagnosed HIV infection.
  • In 2013, an estimated 2,704 youth were diagnosed with AIDS, representing 10% of the 26,688 people diagnosed with AIDS that year.
  • In 2012, an estimated 156 youth with AIDS died, representing 1% of the13,712 people with AIDS who died that year.

Prevention Challenges

Low perception of risk. A majority of 15- to 24-year-olds in the United States responding to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey said they were not concerned about becoming infected with HIV, which means they may not take measures to protect their health.

Declining health education. The prevalence of having been taught in school about HIV infection or AIDS decreased from 92% in 1997 to 85% in 2013.

Low rates of testing. It is estimated that in 2010, about 50% of youth aged 13 to 24 with HIV in the United States were unaware of their infection, compared to 12.8% overall. In a 2013 survey, only 13% of high school students (22% of those who had ever had sexual intercourse), and in a 2010 survey, only 35% of adults aged 18 to 24 had been tested for HIV.

Low rates of condom use. In a 2013 survey in the United States, of the 34% of high school students reporting sexual intercourse in the previous 3 months, 41% did not use a condom.

High rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Some of the highest STD rates in the United States are among youth aged 20 to 24, especially those of minority races and ethnicities. The presence of an STD greatly increases a person’s likelihood of acquiring or transmitting HIV.

Older partners. Young gay and bisexual men are more likely to choose older sex partners than those of their own age, and older partners are more likely to be infected with HIV.

Substance use. Nearly half (47%) of youth aged 12 to 20 reported current alcohol use in 2011, and 10% of youth aged 12 to 17 said they were current users of illicit drugs. Among the 34% of currently sexually active students nationwide, 22% had drunk alcohol or used drugs before last sexual intercourse. Substance use has been linked to HIV infection because both casual and chronic substance users are more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors, such as sex without a condom, when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Homelessness. Runaways, homeless youth, and youth who have become dependent on drugs are at high risk for HIV infection if they exchange sex for drugs, money, or shelter.

Inadequate HIV prevention education. Young people are not always reached by effective HIV interventions or prevention education—especially young gay and bisexual men, because some sex education programs exclude information about sexual orientation.

Feelings of isolation. Gay and bisexual high school students may engage in risky sexual behaviors and substance abuse because they feel isolated and lack support.

What CDC Is Doing

CDC uses a multifaceted approach to meet the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy:

  • In 2011, CDC awarded $55 million over 5 years to 34 community-based  organizations (CBOs) to expand HIV prevention services for young gay, bisexual, and transgender youth of color.
  • CDC funds health departments and CBOs to deliver effective behavioral interventions (
  • CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health collects and reports data on youth health risk behaviors and supports many other projects. For example:
    • Funding 19 state and 17 local education agencies helps districts and schools deliver exemplary sexual health education emphasizing HIV and other STD prevention, increase adolescent access to key sexual health services, and establish safe and supportive environments for students and staff.
    • To meet the HIV/STD prevention needs of young men who have sex with men (YMSM), Advocates for Youth assists local education agencies with implementing multiple program activities and developing strategic partnerships and collaborations between schools and community-based, mental health, and social services organizations.
    • The National Coalition of STD Directors works with state education agencies and CAI works with local education agencies to increase adolescent access to key preventive sexual health services.
    • The American Psychological Association works with state education agencies and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network works with local education agencies to establish safe and supportive learning environments for students and staff.
  • Through its Act Against AIDS campaigns (, CDC aims to provide effective messages about HIV prevention and to reduce stigma, especially for high-risk groups. Let’s Stop HIV Together, for example, fights stigma by showing that people with HIV are real people—including  young people.

  • a Hispanics/Latinos can be of any race

    b New HIV infections refer to HIV incidence, or the number of people who are newly infected with HIV within a given time frame (for example, 1 year), whether or not they are diagnosed.

    c HIV and AIDS diagnoses indicate when a person is diagnosed with HIV infection or AIDS, but do not indicate when the person was infected.

    Additional Resources

    1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636)
    Get answers to questions and locate HIV testing sites.

    CDC HIV Website

    Act Against AIDS

    Treatment and clinical trials.
    Comprehensive government HIV resources.

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