According to the Center for Disease Control (2017), youth aged 13 to 24 made up 21% (8,164) of the 38,739 new HIV diagnoses in the United States and dependent areas. Youth with HIV are the least likely of any age group to be linked to care in a timely manner and have a suppressed viral load. Addressing HIV in youth requires that young people have access to information and tools they need to reduce their risk, make healthy decisions, and get treatment and care if they have HIV.
One of the cited causes of the AIDS/HIV epidemic is Inadequate Sex Education. In most states, fewer than half of high schools teach all 19 sexual health topics recommended by CDC. In addition, sex education is not starting early enough: in no state did more than half of middle schools teach all 19 sexual health topics recommended by CDC. Finally, sex education has been declining over time. The percentage of US schools in which students are required to receive instruction on HIV prevention decreased from 64% in 2000 to 41% in 2014, according to the School Health Policies and Practices Study (CDC, 2017).
According to the HIV Surveillance report (2017) there were over 194,441 people in the West region living with a diagnosed HIV infection (253.7 per 100,000 people). Of the western states, Nevada had the highest infection rate per 100,000 people at 16.9, followed by California with 11.4 and Arizona with 10.9.
Blacks/African-Americans account for a higher proportion of new HIV diagnoses and people living with HIV, compared to other races/ethnicities. In 2017, blacks/African-Americans accounted for 13% of the US population but 43% (16, 694) of the 38, 739 new HIV diagnoses in the United States and dependent areas. In addition, African-Americans have worse outcomes on the HIV continuum of care, including lower rates of linkage to care and viral suppression.
African-American males are the most highly impacted group cohort in the US. This cohort is also very insulated and is traditionally hard to reach. We feel that training and empowering college level African-American males with AIDS/HIV information, and sponsoring them to deliver the valuable information to their peers on the campuses, and within the local communities will be a very effective way to reduce the stigma, and minimize fear, discrimination and homophobia that tends to be a barrier to identification and treatment of this disease.