TEENS & HIV SCREENING: Willing to be Tested if Asked
Doctors and other health workers should offer HIV tests to sexually active youth living in urban areas with high rates of HIV -- who generally believe they are beyond HIV's reach but would get tested if given the opportunity -- according to a recent Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation study on teens' attitudes toward HIV. The New York Times reports that more than half of all new HIV cases in the U.S. occur among people under 25. Maureen Michaels, president of Michaels Opinion Research, which conducted the study, said that young people should simply be asked. "It's a simple question," she said, adding, "It doesn't get asked all the time, but when it does, young people will say yes." The study also found that teens were more likely to obtain tests that were confidential and inexpensive, and "were more likely to be tested by doctors and nurses who respected the fact that they were sexually active." Jennifer Jako, who discovered she was HIV-positive at 18, added, "It's their responsibility to give us the opportunity to be tested. If they hadn't tested me then, I could have attributed symptoms I had to other things, and I would never have known to this day that I'm HIV positive." Victor Barnes, associate director for international HIV prevention at the CDC, said, "The key to successful treatment is getting treatment early and consistently. For individuals who do not seek HIV testing until they are experiencing symptoms of illness associated with HIV-related diseases or AIDS itself, today's treatments cannot offer as much hope" (Tang, 6/29).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.