June 25, 2009 / 7:32 PM / 10 years ago

Few sexually active teens in US get HIV test: CDC

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Nearly half the HIV-positive U.S. adolescents and young adults are unaware of their infection, and less than a quarter of sexually active high school students are tested for the virus, U.S. health officials said on Thursday.

Only 22 percent of sexually active high school students are tested for human immunodeficiency virus, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in an analysis using data from a 2007 survey of students in grades 9-12 (ages 14-18).

“At the end of 2006, an estimated 48 percent of adolescents and young adults infected with HIV were unaware of their infection, representing missed opportunities for diagnosis, treatment, and reduction in the number of new HIV transmissions,” the CDC said.

It said people aged 12 to 24 represented 4.4 percent of the estimated 1.1 million people in the United States infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Yet they represented 10 percent of the estimated 232,700 people living with the virus without knowing it.

Older high school students are most likely to have been tested for HIV, and girls are more likely to have gotten the test than boys, the CDC said in its weekly report on death and disease.

HIV testing was more common among students who had ever been taught in school about AIDS or HIV infection than among those who had not, the study found. The researchers urged more schools to include information about testing in their curriculum.

The CDC recommends that doctors offer HIV screening as part of routine checkups for U.S. high school students.

Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; editing by Mohammad Zargham

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