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By providing free or low-cost HIV testing to teenagers and young adults, public health agencies may be able to increase rates of screening among this age group, according to a new study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
For the study, researchers from the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center offered free testing to 81 individuals between the ages of 16 and 21 after the participants were given an HIV risk assessment survey. The results showed that 53 percent of the participants accepted the HIV testing offer.
With HIV testing rates running much lower than this among young people, the researchers said that their findings provide evidence that it may be possible to increase the number who seek screening.
"Given that many adolescents are willing to know their HIV status, policies that support free or low-cost routine testing may ultimately help identify more cases of HIV among teens," said Rebecca Swenson, who led the study. "Our findings suggest that widespread routine testing is a viable HIV prevention strategy for this particular age group."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that regular HIV testing is one of the most effective strategies for preventing the spread of the disease.
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