DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas County Director of Health and Human Services Zach Thompson says the agency is seeing an uptick in the number of new HIV cases in 13-to-24 year olds.
Last year, they accounted for 25 percent of all new diagnoses – 232 of a total of 908 – compared to 20 percent – 207 of 966 total – in 2009.
“I know it’s hard for us to fathom it’s happening, but it’s a reality and, again, the data demonstrates unless we catch it early and get the prevention message out, we are really setting our young people out for failure,” Thompson said. “The key is education and prevention.”
In Tarrant County from January to July of this year there have been more than 140 new HIV cases.
Two of them – just 1.4 percent – were people under 19 years old.
In Texas, teens and young adults don’t need permission from a parent to get tested for STDs or HIV. But if the patient tests positive, the health care provider may legally discuss it with parents.
On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced that all sexually active teenagers should be tested for HIV.
Research has shown that more than 1.1 million Americans have HIV, 55,000 of whom – five percent – are between 13 and 24 years old.
Without care, HIV often develops into AIDS. But early detection and treatment can postpone that for many years, health experts say.