May 13, 2015
2 min read

Interventions needed to reduce high-risk behaviors among HIV-infected youth

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Researchers discovered HIV increased incidence for co-sexually transmitted infections among adolescents and young adults in metropolitan Atlanta.

According to study findings, researchers indicated that interventions are urgently needed to improve on antiretroviral compliance and to reduce risky behaviors among this population.

“This increase is secondary to two overlapping phenomena: many adolescents and young adults who were perinatally HIV-infected are now sexually active and there continues to be an increasing population of horizontally infected adolescents and young adults,” Pamela S. Brownstein, MD, of the department of pediatrics of Children’s Health Care of Atlanta, and colleagues wrote.

The single-centered, retrospective analysis included 205 HIV-infected sexually active adolescents and young adult patients aged between 13 and 24 years treated at the Ponce Family and Youth Clinic in Atlanta between 2009 and 2011. Fifty-nine percent of the cohort were men and 92% were black.

According to study results, 19% of the cohort had controlled HIV-infection and 66% were horizontally infected. Nearly half (47%) of the population were men-who-have-sex-with-men. Condom-use was reported in 76%, while 50% reported having more than five lifetime sexual partners. In addition, 27% reported prior sexual abuse and 58% reported drug-use.

Co-STIs were reported in 67% of patients, corresponding to a rate of 35 STIs per 100 person-years. A significantly higher number of STIs were reported in those with uncontrolled HIV (42.7 per 100 person-years) when compared with those with controlled HIV (19.7 per 100 person-years; P < .001). Moreover, those with uncontrolled HIV were more likely to have more sexual partners (P = .008), more STIs (P = .01) and more likely to have horizontal acquisition (P = .001).

According to results of an adjusted logistic model, those with one or more STI were more likely to be aged older (P = .033), have more than five sexual partners (P = .001) and report no condom use (P = .025).  When compared with those with controlled HIV, those with uncontrolled HIV were 2.8-times more likely to have one or more STI (95% CI, 1.16-6.94).

“A better understanding of the factors influencing HIV adherence and sexual behaviors, in addition to the potential interrelationship of these factors, is urgently needed if effective interventions are to be successfully implemented to control the alarming epidemic of HIV infection and co-STIs in youth,” the researchers wrote.

Disclosure: Brownstein reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the full study for a list of all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.