Young People Born with HIV Aren’t Informing Sexual Partners, Researchers Find

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A new study recently published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases found approximately two-thirds of sexually active young people who were either born with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired it shortly after being born, do not inform their first sexual partners of their HIV status. 

The study is the first to examine the initial sexual activity (ISA) of adolescents that acquired HIV before, during or shortly after birth. Using information from the Pediatric HIV/AIDS Cohort Study, which collected data from HIV positive young people ages 10-18, researchers compiled information about the sexual behaviors of 330 subjects.

Data culled from computer-assisted interviews revealed that 92 young people - almost 30 percent of the total population - said that they had engaged in sexual activities at least once over a two-year study window from 2007 to 2009. Of those 92, 57 reported having unprotected sexual intercourse with at least one partner. 

According to researchers, just 33 percent of HIV-positive young people informed their first sexual partner of their HIV status. Of the 92 subjects that reported engaging in sexual activity, 39 had HIV RNA levels that indicated the possibility of at least some viral drug resistance. 

According to the study, the average subject reported having sexual intercourse for the first time around the age of 14. Twelve out of 67 subjects that answered questions about their first sexual experiences said they did not know they had HIV prior to their initial sexual activity.