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Communication between partners leads to higher HIV testing in teens

Category: Autoimmune Diseases

While most teens would shy away from taking STD tests, a new study conducted last month in the Bronx shows that strong communication between partners leads to higher testing in adolescents. In addition, teens in a committed relationship were more likely to get tested for HIV than those with increased education in HIV or those engaging in risky sexual behavior.

Surveying almost 1,000 Bronx teens, the findings released by researchers at the Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University show that 48 percent of the participants who had been tested for HIV (44 percent) engaged in open conversations with their partner regarding HIV. Committed relationships also attribute to a higher frequency in testing, as the study shows more than half of those tested were engaging in sexual activity with just one partner.

Higher HIV knowledge does not lead to more testing
Knowledge of HIV encompasses understanding the spread and treatment of the disease, however the report states that this is not enough to spark testing in teens.

"Despite efforts to educate about the risks of HIV and AIDS in schools, it is clear that more is needed to prompt adolescents to speak up and take the next step of getting tested," stated researcher Hina Talib, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at Einstein.

The participants who had HIV-related communication with their partner were 3.7 times more likely to have taken a blood test than those with low communication.

"We should include partner communication modules when designing high impact interventions to encourage HIV testing for these minority adolescents who need it most," said Talib, also the adolescent medicine physician at Montefiore.

Those with higher HIV knowledge and engaging in risky sexual behavior are not more likely to get tested, the study found.

How to reduce risk of exposure to HIV
In addition to STD testing and diagnosis tests, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that limiting your number of sexual partners and practicing safe sex are effective ways to prevent HIV. Risky behavior is categorized as engaging in unprotected anal or vaginal sex, as well as injecting drugs and sharing used needles.

Furthermore, the CDC stated that people between the ages of 13 and 64 should get tested at least once for HIV. Testing should occur once a year if you believe yourself to be at high-risk for contracting HIV.

While Talib believes health care providers should discuss testing with adolescents, lab tests online can provide anonymity and discretion when teens are involved.

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