Health & Medical Children & Kid Health

HIV Risk Behaviors and Testing in Adolescent Girls

´╗┐HIV Risk Behaviors and Testing in Adolescent Girls
With an estimated 11 million cases worldwide, adolescents are the fastest growing group of persons newly diagnosed with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and are at the center of the worldwide AIDS pandemic (United Nations Children's Fund, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS & World Health Organization, 2002). The most recent epidemiological data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that 89% of all recent adolescent heterosexually acquired HIV infections occurred in girls (2004c).

Similarly, 40% of the chlamydia cases reported in 2000 were among young women 15 to 19 years of age. The disproportionately high rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among adolescent girls are particularly important because the presence of STIs is known to facilitate HIV transmission (CDC, 2000). Despite the extensive evidence indicating the effectiveness of condom use in preventing STI and HIV transmission (Holmes, Levine, & Weaver, 2004; Warner & Hatcher, 1998), adolescent girls continue to engage in behaviors that increase their risk for infection (Morrison-Beedy, Carey, & Aronowitz, 2003).

In the last half-decade of the U.S. HIV epidemic, scientists observed disproportionately high rates of infection among females of color (CDC, 2001a). In an urgent effort to address the disparity between Black and White HIV rates, individual and group level HIV prevention interventions, as well as community level prevention campaigns were designed to address ways to increase HIV knowledge and pro-risk reduction attitudes and behaviors in the Black U.S. population (CDC - AIDS Community Demonstration Projects Research Group, 1999; DiClemente & Wingood, 1995; Lauby, Smith, Stark, Person & Adams, 2000). Recently, and arguably because of these efforts, researchers are reporting a stabilization of the HIV rate among Blacks (CDC, 2003b) as well as decreases in HIV risk behaviors, increases in HIV related knowledge, and increases in HIV testing rates (CDC, 2004a). The progress noted among the U.S. Black population is in accord with the goals of the federal governments Healthy People 2010 plan (United States Department of Health and Human Services, 2000). However, similar progress has not been reported among Whites. The purpose of this article is to provide evidence of the racial differences in concurrent patterns of HIV testing and HIV risk-related behaviors in the same sample of adolescent girls who consented to participate in a pilot randomized controlled HIV prevention intervention.

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