New York Times Examines Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Prevention, Treatment Compliance Programs for Teens
The New York Times today examines several comprehensive education programs aimed at preventing HIV infection among youths or encouraging HIV-positive youth to comply with their treatment regimens. According to data released last week at the 2003 National HIV Prevention Conference in Atlanta, the number of newly reported HIV infections among youth rose slightly in 2002, a "small but troubling" increase, the Times reports. Of the approximately 40,000 new HIV infections reported last year, more than 50% are estimated to be among people younger than 25, and most of those people contracted the virus through sexual contact. "We are concerned about attitudes toward AIDS in younger patients who have been sexually active since AIDS or HIV infection has become a treatable disease," Dr. Harold Jaffe, director of the CDC's National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention, said. One after-school program run by the Children's Aid Society focuses on "creative self-expression," urging youth to learn skills such as embroidery, drawing, sports, bank account management or job interviewing. The program, which was founded by Dr. Michael Carrera of CAS, also includes more traditional sex education components. Carrera said that none of the 5,000 children who have enrolled in the program in its 19 years of operation have tested HIV-positive. He added that he believes the program's success can be attributed to giving responsibility to the youth themselves. "We like to say that we don't prevent HIV among our young people, they do," Carrera said. The Times notes that the same type of program tailoring is being applied to programs that help HIV-positive youth comply with their treatment regimens. Some programs assign a nurse or counselor to HIV-positive teenagers to help monitor their treatment compliance, and other programs wait to prescribe medication until health care workers feel that the patient is emotionally prepared to comply (Lerner, New York Times, 8/5).
Webcasts of selected sessions of the 2003 National HIV Prevention Conference, including an interview with Jaffe, are available online through kaisernetwork.org's HealthCast.