HIV and Youth: Viral Suppression

Viral suppression is the percentage of people with diagnosed HIV who have less than 200 copies of HIV per milliliter of blood.

Ending the HIV Epidemic goal banner for viral suppression.
graphic of a bottle of pills

It is important for young people to know their HIV status so they can take medicine to treat HIV if they have the virus. Taking HIV medicine every day can make the viral load undetectable. People who get and keep an undetectable viral load (or remain virally suppressed) can stay healthy for many years and have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their sex partners.

Youth with Diagnosed HIV in 41 States and the District of Columbia, 2018

Compared to all people with diagnosed HIV, youth have lower viral suppression rates. For every 100 youth with diagnosed HIV in 2018:

79 received some HIV care

58 were retained in care

60 were virally supressed

Compared to all people with diagnosed HIV, youth have lower viral suppression rates.

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* Had 2 viral load or CD4 tests at least 3 months apart in a year.
† Based on most recent viral load test.
Source: CDC. Selected national HIV prevention and care outcomes pdf icon[PDF – 2 MB] [slides].

Among people with HIV, youth aged 18 to 24 years reported higher levels of skipped doses of HIV medicine, missed medical visits, and experienced homelessness. These factors pose barriers to achieving viral suppression and highlight the need for youth-specific support for HIV care retention and treatment adherence.

Missed HIV Medical Care Appointments Among Youth with Diagnosed HIV in the US, 2018*

Staying in HIV care is important to achieving and maintaining viral suppression.

36 percent of youth missed at least 1 HIV medical care appointment compared to 24 percent of people overall.

HIV Treatment Among Youth with Diagnosed HIV in the US, 2018*

Taking HIV medicine consistently and as prescribed is the best way to achieve and maintain viral suppression.

53 percent of youth reported taking all of their HIV medicine compared to 59 percent of people overall.

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*Among youth aged 18 to 24 years who are taking HIV medicine.
Source: CDC. Medical Monitoring Project.

Needed Care Services Among Youth with Diagnosed HIV in the US, 2018*

Having access to needed health care services could reduce barriers to achieving and maintaining viral suppression.

This chart shows the top two services youth reported needing but not receiving: dental care and transportation assistance.

HIV Stigma Among Youth with Diagnosed HIV in the US, 2018*

This chart shows HIV stigma scores among youth and people overall.

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Ten-item scale ranging from 0 (no stigma) to 100 (high stigma) that measures personalized stigma, disclosure concerns, negative self-image, and perceived public attitudes about people with HIV. According to a studyexternal icon, higher scores are associated with poorer social support and greater depression and substance use in youth.

* Aged 18 to 24 years.
Source: CDC. Medical Monitoring Project.

Homelessness Among Youth with Diagnosed HIV in the US, 2018*

People who experience homelessness may find it difficult to get HIV care and treatment.

24 percent of youth reported homelessness in the past 12 months.

Deaths

In 2018, there were 129 deaths among youth with diagnosed HIV in the US and dependent areas. These deaths could be from any cause.

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