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AIDS in Adolescence: Exploring the Challenge

NCJ Number
Journal of Adolescent Health Care Volume: 10 Issue: 3 Supplement Dated: (May 1989) Pages: 10S-35S
K Hein
Date Published
26 pages
Exploring the AIDS risk in adolescents necessitates focusing on the special characteristics of this age group and the need for an interdisciplinary intervention perspective.
There is a low cumulative prevalence of AIDS cases in the adolescent population compared to adults. At the end of 1988, 977 adolescent AIDS cases in persons between 13 and 21 years of age were reported to the Centers for Disease Control, accounting for only 1 percent of total reported cases. The mean latency time from viral infection to time of illness, however, is estimated to be 5-7 years. Therefore, most infected adolescents would not become ill until they are young adults, and the percentage of reported cases in people between 20-29 years of age is 21 percent of total cases. Some of the differences between adolescents and adults are that a higher percentage of teenage AIDS cases are acquired by heterosexual transmission, there is a higher percentage of teenage asymptomatic individuals, a higher percentage of black and Hispanic cases, a special set of ethical and legal issues regarding testing and informing partners and parents, cognitive differences, special implications of teenage mothers who deliver HIV-infected babies, emotional differences in coping styles, differences in sexual behavior patterns, and lack of convenient and appropriate services for youth. Specific biological, behavioral, and social attributes of adolescents demonstrate the need for an interdisciplinary approach to AIDS educational intervention and health care. 91 references, 10 figures.


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