Joseph Inungu, Averetta Lewis, Younis Mustafa, Jessica Wood, Sarah O’Brien, and Deidre Verdun
Objectives: We examined the prevalence of HIV testing in a representative sample of US adolescents and youth, assessed the location and method of testing used during their last HIV testing, and compare the characteristics of those who had and had not been tested for HIV.
Methods and Principal Findings: Data on adolescents and youth who participated in the 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey were analyzed. Of the 6,628 adolescents and youth who participated in the 2009 BRFSS, 54.4% were male, 59.1% were white, 37.4% graduated from high school, 29.6% live in the western states in the United States. Their mean age was 20.9 years (± 2.07 SD). Of these participants, 31.8% had been tested for HIV. The majority of adolescents had been tested for HIV either at private physician offices (38%) or public clinics (31.7%) compared to HIV counseling and testing sites (3.1%). Only 30.5% of adolescents were tested using a rapid HIV antibody test. Being female, African-American, Asian or multiracial, divorced/widowed, and living in the Western and North Eastern states in the United States were associated with a high probability of testing for HIV.
Conclusions: The low prevalence of adolescents who tested for HIV and the low proportion of those offered rapid HIV testing after the 2006 CDC’s new guidelines about HIV testing raise serious concerns about the effectiveness of HIV prevention efforts particularly among adolescents. More innovative strategies are needed to increase the number of adolescents and youth who become aware of their HIV serostatus.