HIV testing uncommon in teens despite recommendations: CDC

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CHICAGO (AP) — Fewer than 1 in 4 high school students who've had sex have ever been tested for HIV, a troubling low rate that didn't budge over eight years, government researchers say. Young adults fared slightly better, although testing rates have declined in black women, a high-risk group.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and an influential preventive health panel recommend routine HIV testing at least once for teens and adults. They also advise at least yearly screening for high-risk patients including those with multiple sex partners, gay or bisexual boys and men and injection drug users. The American Academy of Pediatrics has similar advice targeting teens only.

SEE ALSO: Charlie Sheen quits HIV meds, says he was 'born dead'

Nearly half of U.S. high school students have had sex, often without using condoms, which can help prevent the spread of HIV, which causes AIDS. About 15 percent report having had at least four sex partners.

Some teens underestimate their HIV risk and have doctors who are unaware of the recommendations, according to the CDC researchers who did the study. The health agency says inadequate sex education is another challenge; in a report last month, it said fewer than half of U.S. high schools and middle schools teach CDC-recommended sexual health education including HIV-related topics.

Other CDC data show there's been an overall decline in HIV cases nationwide in recent years.

About 50,000 people are diagnosed each year with HIV and 1 in 4 new infections occur in those aged 13 to 24.

The new study was published online Tuesday in Pediatrics.

Led by CDC health scientist Michelle Van Handel, the researchers analyzed 2005-13 national health surveys involving high school students, and 2011-13 surveys involving adults aged 18 to 24.

Some highlights:

SCREENING RATES

Overall, 22 percent of high school students reported ever have been tested for HIV — and only one-third who'd had at least four sexual partners — rates that remained stable during the study.

The rate remained at an average 27 percent for young adult men but dipped among young women from 42 percent to 40 percent. It was much higher for black women but fell from 69 percent to 60 percent.

Related: Notable people who have battled or are battling HIV or AIDS:

12 PHOTOS
Notable people with HIV/AIDS
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HIV testing uncommon in teens despite recommendations: CDC
Magic Johnson attends at "A Toast To Possibilities" celebrating the Magic Johnson Foundation's Point Forward Day at The Ritz Carlton Residences at L.A. Live on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision for AEG Worldwide/AP)
FILE - In this April 11, 2013 file photo, Charlie Sheen, a cast member in "Scary Movie V," poses at the Los Angeles premiere of the film at the Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles. Sheen was sued in Los Angeles Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, by a dental technician who claims the actor punched her in the chest and was abusive during an office visit in late September. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, file)

American rapper Eazy-E

(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Freddie Mercury

(AP Photo/Gill Allen)

Actor Rock Hudson is shown in Hollywood, Ca., in 1964. (AP Photo)
Tennis great Arthur Ashe appears on the set of ABC television's "Good Morning America" Thursday, April 9, 1992 in New York. Ashe announced Wednesday that he has AIDS and believes he contracted the HIV virus through a post operative blood transfusion during a 1983 heart operation. (AP Photo)
Alvin Ailey is shown in this Nov. 30, 1983 photo during a rehearsal in New York City. (AP Photo/Paul Burnett)
American fashion designer Perry Ellis (1940 - 1986) at the Council of Fashion Designers of America 1981 awards dinner at the New York Public Library on 42nd Street, New York City, 14th January 1982. (Photo by Tom Gates/Archive Photos/Getty Images)
New York artist Keith Haring decorates the Berlin Wall with 100 meters of graffiti. The artist, famous because of his New Yoek subway painting, begins his work near West Berlin's Checkpoint Charlie on Oct. 23, 1986. (AP Photo/Rainer Klostermeier)

Photographer Robert Mapplethorpe

(Photo by Leee Black Childers/Redferns)

Photographer Herb Ritts

(Star Max via AP Images)

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HIV INFECTIONS

Nearly 10,000 13- to 24-year-olds were diagnosed with HIV in 2014, CDC data show. The rate was minimal for 13-year-olds, climbed to almost 9 out of 100,000 for 15- to 19-year-olds and nearly tripled for 20- to 24-year olds. Van Handel said those spikes in infections underscore the importance of starting testing early.

Adults aged 25 to 29 have the highest infection rate among age groups — almost 36 per 100,000. Rates are higher among some other groups, including blacks.

THE TESTS

HIV screening can be done with simple blood draws, mouth swabs or urine tests; insurance generally covers FDA-approved lab tests as free preventive care. Routine testing offers the best chance for early detection and treatment, the CDC says.

Learn more about what it's like to with HIV in America:
The Reality of Living With HIV in America
More health news:
The 'man flu' apparently really does exist
Ebola epidemic is officially over
Charlie Sheen: I dreamt I had AIDS many years ago

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