WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- An article released in the journal AIDS, which included data from Washington, DC underscores the necessity for increased HIV-specific services for youth. The article concludes that HIV positive young people have dangerously high levels of the virus in their system which can make them more likely to transmit HIV to their partners.
"The findings reinforce the need for continued or expanded HIV testing services as well as services that link HIV positive young people with medical care and social services," states Adam Tenner, Executive Director of Metro TeenAIDS. "For so many of the HIV positive young people we serve, managing their HIV is not a priority. Our work is to help them integrate an HIV diagnosis into their lives."
But Tenner cautions that it's not just "more" that's needed, the services need to be tailored specifically to the needs of adolescents.
"It's been our experience that young men who have sex with men, tend to drop out of care because of the complexity of their lives including the double stigma associated with disclosing their HIV status as well as their sexual activity," says Melissa Sellevaag, MTA's Director of Clinical Services.
"We're being told that funding may shrink for community-based HIV programs. And yet," Tenner says, "programs like the ones at Metro TeenAIDS are essential to ensure that young people are accessing and remaining in care."
A recent HIV testing program run by Metro TeenAIDS and funded by the DC Department of Health identified several youth who knew they were HIV positive but were not engaged in care. "It is our experience that many HIV-positive youth will go to a first appointment but unless they have adequate support, rarely stay engaged," says Sellevaag.
"The way we reduce future transmission of HIV is to ensure that all HIV positive young people know their status, receive medical care and stay adherent to their medication."
Metro TeenAIDS (MTA) is a community health organization dedicated to partnering with young people to end HIV/AIDS. During 25 years of service, MTA has provided education programs and prevention resources to well over 300,000 young people, family members, and youth workers in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area.
SOURCE Metro TeenAIDS