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American Academy of Pediatrics recommends routine HIV testing for teens

In a position paper released Monday morning, the American Academy of Pediatrics changed its HIV testing recommendations for teens.

Previously, the Academy recommended testing only for those youth who admitted to sexual activity, but now the group recommends all teenagers ages 16-18 in areas of the country with prevalence rates of .1 percent or higher be tested regularly, reports CNN.

AAP also recommended that such testing be conducted through rapid testing. Rapid testing allows for results in 20 minutes, and while considered only a presumptive test which must be followed with a traditional blood test for the virus to prove infection, it is considered incredibly sensitive to infection. Some Michigan experts who use the test say the virus can be detected early in the infection process, often before traditional testing could identify the infection.

The move is being implemented to address the continued crisis in teen cases of HIV.

In 2006, there were more than 1.1 million HIV-positive people living in the United States. Of that population, the CDC says 5% were adolescents and young adults, ages 13 to 24 years old. That may seem like a small overall percentage but consider this: Upwards of 70% of new HIV infections are caused by people of all ages who are unaware of their HIV-positive status. Roughly one of every two HIV-infected adolescents don’t know they’re positive.

Recent studies have found that those who do not know they are infected with the virus are more likely to infect others. This is because the virus is more active in their system without the intervention of anti-retroviral medications. The medications have been proven to reduce the infectiousness of those with the virus by reducing the amount of virus in the blood. But, other studies have found that starting HIV medications before minor immune system problems are caused has no benefit for the infected individual.

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