The reality is that too many young people in the United States are at risk of contracting HIV.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that:

  • An estimated 8,294 young persons were diagnosed with HIV infection in 2009 in the 40 states with long-term HIV reporting, representing about 20% of the persons diagnosed during that year.
  • Seventy-five percent (6,237) of these diagnoses occurred in young people aged 20–24 years. Indeed, those aged 20–24 had the highest number and rate of HIV diagnoses of any age group (36.9 new HIV diagnoses/100,000 people).

The problem of HIV/AIDS is especially acute in minority communities.Despite representing only 14 percent of the U.S. population in 2009, African Americans accounted for 44 percent of all new HIV infections in that year, according to Centers for Disease Control.

But there’s more.

  • In 2009, black men accounted for 70 percent  of the estimated new HIV infections among all blacks. The estimated rate of new HIV infection for black men was more than six and a half times as high as that of white men, and two and a half times as high as that of Latino men or black women.
  • In 2009, black men who have sex with men (MSM) represented an estimated 73% of new infections among all black men, and 37% among all MSM. More new HIV infections occurred among young black MSM (aged 13–29) than any other age and racial group of MSM. In addition, new HIV infections among young black MSM increased by 48% from 2006–2009.
  • In 2009, black women accounted for 30% of the estimated new HIV infections among all blacks. Nearly (85%) black women with HIV acquired HIV through heterosexual sex. The estimated rate of new HIV infections for black women was more than 15 times as high as the rate for white women, and more than three times as high as that of Latina women.

It’s time to take a stand against this disease. As we recognize World AIDS Day, remember that you have the power to protect yourself. You have a say in what happens to your body.

Remember to be safe and smart with your decisions. Don’t be afraid to get tested or to insist that your partner gets tested; knowing your HIV status and that of your partner or partners will help you make more informed decisions. HIV/AIDS is a global epidemic, but each us can do our part to stop it. Our collective goals is getting to “zero!” That means zero new infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero discrimination for those infected.

Live HOPE. Give HOPE.