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The Young Men Who Have Sex With Men (YMSM) Project

Reducing the Risk of HIV/STD Infection

Three interconnected circles defining YMSM: Identity, Attraction and Behavior

The goal of the YMSM Project is to reduce the risk of HIV and STD infection in YMSM students (ages 13–19) with a focus on black and Latino YMSM. To accomplish this goal, the project works to:

  • Increase the number of teen YMSM who are tested and treated for HIV and STD
  • Decrease sexual risk behaviors among teen YMSM
  • Reduce absenteeism and school drop-out among teen YMSM

For this project, “YMSM” includes young men who identify as gay or bisexual, are attracted to other males, and/or engage in sexual behavior with other males.

The YMSM Project’s innovative, school-centered approach is led by CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH). The project is funded jointly by the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention (DHAP) and DASH through the cooperative agreement RFA-1308: Promoting Adolescent Health Through School-Based HIV/STD Prevention and School-Based Surveillance [PDF – 771K] .

Four partners are funded to address the HIV/STD Prevention needs of black and Latino YMSM:

  • Advocates for Youth
  • Los Angeles Unified School District (California)
  • San Francisco Unified School District (California)
  • School Board of Broward County (Florida)

The project is guided by the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Funded partners implement multiple activities to meet the local HIV/STD prevention needs of black and Latino YMSM in priority schools:

  • Implement or expand HIV and STD testing and treatment in schools and school-based health centers
  • Increase collaboration between schools, school-based health centers, community-based organizations, and other health care providers for linkage and referral to HIV and STD testing and treatment, and evidence-based educational interventions
  • Develop a systematic process for school staff (e.g., nurses, counselors, and social workers) to refer students to HIV and STD testing and treatment
  • Assess and implement policies that impact HIV and STD-related testing, treatment, and prevention interventions for teen YMSM
  • Implement programs to promote healthy school and school-based health center environments for YMSM
  • Market HIV/STD prevention to teen YMSM
  • Implement evidence-based HIV prevention interventions tailored for teen YMSM

HIV/STD Among YMSM: Facts at a Glance

  • Among adolescent males aged 13–19 years in 2011, 93% of diagnosed HIV infections were attributed to male-to-male sexual contact.1
  • From 2008 to 2011, the estimated number of new HIV infections increased 26% among YMSM aged 13–24 years.2
  • In 2011, among all YMSM aged 13–24 years with HIV infection, an estimated 58% were black, 20% were Hispanic/Latino, and 18% were white.2
  • About 60% of all youth with HIV do not know they are infected, are not getting treated, and can unknowingly pass the virus on to others.3


  1. CDC. HIV Surveillance in Adolescents and Young Adults (through 2011). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC Web site. Available at [PDF – 4.7MB]. 
  2. CDC. HIV Surveillance in Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM)(through 2011). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC Web site. Available at 
  3. CDC. Vital Signs: HIV Infection, Testing, and Risk Behaviors Among Youths — United States. MMWR 2012:61(47);971-976.