Young Women Infected with HIV/AIDS
Young people in the United States are at a greater risk of getting HIV infection through heterosexual contact. According to CDC research on disadvantaged youth, the rate of HIV among young women aged 16–21 is 50 percent higher than the rate among young men in that age group.
Young women are at a greater risk of getting HIV for several reasons, including:
- biological reasons
- not knowing their partners' risk factors, such as a history of unprotected sex or injection drug use
- feeling less power in relationships
- having sex with older men who are infected
Many young women infected with HIV as infants from their mothers are now facing decisions about becoming sexually active as well. In a recent American Journal of Public Health article, some of these young women grow up without knowing they are HIV positive. Family members and caregivers delayed telling them because of fear of shame. Other research shows that once these young women are aware, they are more likely to have risky sex without telling partners they are HIV positive.
To ensure that these teens do not spread HIV, they will need counseling and education. HIV prevention outreach and education efforts, including programs on abstinence, are key for these young women. The following are some CDC-tested prevention programs that state and local health departments provide for youth across the country.
- Teens Linked to Care is focused on young people aged 13–29 who are living with HIV.
- Street Smart is an HIV/AIDS and STD prevention program for runaway and homeless youth.
- PROMISE (Peers Reaching Out and Modeling Intervention Strategies for HIV/AIDS Risk Reduction in their Community) is a community-level HIV prevention intervention that relies on role-model stories and peers from the community.