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AIDS rapidly spreading among young homosexual boys and men

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 29th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Although there are drugs that prolong the lives of those infected with HIV and AIDS, many young homosexual men and boys continue to engage in what is mistakenly called "safe sex." Even worse, the wide majority are unaware that they have been infected and continue to spread it among others.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic online) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued a new report which proves that more than a quarter of new U.S. infections are in youths aged 13 to 24. Sixty percent of those infected are unaware of their status, and spread it even further.

Doctors warn that the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV that causes AIDS cannot be cured. It proves fatal for those who do not seek treatment. A cocktail of drugs can keep patients healthy if they take their medication consistently and are far less likely to infect someone else.

Officials estimate that 12,200 young men and women aged 13 to 24 became infected with HIV in 2010. Nearly three-quarters were boys and men having sex with other men with more than half of the newly infected youths being African American.

The report "really provides shocking data on the higher rate of risky behavior and the lower rate of condom use" among young men, CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden told reporters.

Shockingly, only 13 percent of high school students have been tested for the virus and just 35 percent of 18 to 24 year olds have been.

"Young gay and bisexual men report much higher levels of risky sexual behavior than their heterosexual peers," Frieden said. The doctors say that they are more likely to have multiple sex partners, use drugs and alcohol before sex, which in turn makes them more likely to not use  condoms while engaging in homosexual acts as well as practice other dangerous behavior.

A separate CDC survey of high school kids and young adults found that young gay and bisexual men were more likely to report having had homosexual sex with four or more partners.

The answer, the CDC says, is a combination of testing, treatment and good sex education in schools.

"I don't think there is a simple answer for this but we are not in support of mandatory testing," Frieden said.

"The key here is to make it routine screening, just like we have cholesterol screening," Frieden added. "If someone refuses, that is their right, but we should say, 'This is what we do.'"

Those who put off getting the tests for fear of bad news, the doctor remind us that people who are tested can get treated. "If we double the number of people treated effectively, we cut in half, roughly, the number of new infections that will occur," Frieden added.

Dr. Kevin Fenton, who leads the AIDS branch, says that there is still a lot of misinformation being spread. "I have to tell you, it is astonishing, the level of ignorance about basic physiology among middle school and high school students," Fenton said.

"Kids who are gay or bisexual were less likely to say they had received sex education in schools," Fenton added. 

"Youth who are sexually active can reduce their risk of HIV infection by choosing to stop having sex. They can also limit their number of sex partners, not have sex with an older partner who may be more likely to already have HIV" CDC says.

Of course, the only "safe" behavior is to refrain from homosexual sexual activity completely.

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