AHF Fights Low Teen HIV Testing Rates with Innovative Tactics
As the CDC reports a concerning trend of few teens getting tested for HIV and other STIs, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) utilizes modern approaches, including concert ticket testing incentives, that have shown success with hundreds of teens lining up for tests
LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Recently released statistics from the CDC indicate that, while the numbers of teenagers having sex in the United States have shown small decreases over the past decade, the rates of young people being tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) remain at a distressingly low rate with an average of just 1 in 5 teenagers getting tested for HIV.
“How we are overlooking the teen HIV issue”
The report is discussed at length in a recent article from independent news outlet Voxxi.com, July 21’s “How we are overlooking the teen HIV issue,” which quotes statements Dr. Laura Kann, head of the School-Based Surveillance Branch in CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health, made to HealthDay on teens and HIV:
“We know that one in four new HIV infections occur in young people ages 13 to 24, which is about 12,200 new infections per year in the United States. We have too many kids in this country at risk of HIV infection and we have not enough kids tested for HIV, and we need to do more. It’s unclear why we have not been able to increase testing more than we have. We do have evidence of increased complacency about HIV among teens,” Kann said.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has long been addressing the issue of helping teenagers know their HIV status and develop good habits for routine testing through educational outreach and testing events throughout the United States and in 34 countries around the world. The public health nonprofit found particular success among members of the impacted teen demographic through a recent testing opportunity in New York City hosted in conjunction with Lifebeat: Music Fights HIV/AIDS to mark National HIV Testing Day on June 27.
The testing event centered on a June 27 concert dubbed “KYSS (Know Your Status Stage),” which featured top musical artists like A$AP Ferg, Flatbush Zombies, Po Johnson and Bodega Bamz. Taking a free HIV test – using the INSTI rapid test, which provides results in just 60 seconds – was the only way to gain entry to the free concert, and the response from New York City teenagers was dramatic and heartening.
The “Get Tested, Get In” concert sold out in just 2 weeks after the June 2 launch of the testing campaign, which featured mobile testing events in Long Island City, Hell’s Kitchen, and Brooklyn alongside a standing walk-in testing opportunity at AHF’s Out of the Closet Thrift Store on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. In total, 430 people – most of them between the ages of 16 – 25, and some under the age of 16 – took a free HIV to gain entry to the concert. Of those young people, 60% reported it was the first time they’d ever been tested for HIV, and 98% said they would definitely get tested for a concert ticket again.
“The epidemiology is pretty clear on the fact that young people are being sexually active but not necessarily being safe,” said Whitney Engeran-Cordova, AHF’s Director of Public Health, adding that thousands of teens aged 13 – 18 are regularly diagnosed with STDs through AHF Wellness Centers throughout the U.S. “I really think that working to reach teens, especially in cities where we know the teen population is dealing with a heavy HIV burden, through events we know they want to go to makes a lot of sense. Concerts, social media, or something where they can interact on their phones are all viable entry points that would likely work to get this population tested at higher rates. These are just truths about what young people are up to these days that present definite opportunities.”
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare provider in the USA. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to over 319,000 individuals in 34 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Asia. For more information, visit www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @AIDSHealthcare.