Exposure to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can be a consequence of many of the risk-taking behaviors that occur among adolescents. Efforts to improve adolescent health through access to diagnosis, treatment, and prevention education must take into account the developmental level of the patient, as well as social and psychological variables.
Issues surrounding HIV infections vary widely between adolescents in developing countries and those in the developed world. This topic will principally review, within the developed world, the epidemiology of and risk factors for HIV infection among adolescents, strategies to provide services to adolescents, and age-specific recommendations for initiating treatment. The epidemiology, natural history, and classification of pediatric HIV infection are discussed separately. (See "Epidemiology of pediatric HIV infection" and "Natural history and classification of pediatric HIV infection".)
There are unique challenges to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of HIV infection among adolescents. A comprehensive program for adolescents at risk for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection must include efforts at preventing infection (such as outreach programs), easily accessible testing, and counseling. Programs that have been successful are peer oriented and target specific high-risk behaviors [1,2].
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides guidelines for HIV counseling, testing, and referral . Specific issues that should be addressed with adolescents include the following:
●Reason for testing – The adolescent who has recently engaged in a high-risk activity must understand the importance of retesting in three months. Some teens have already had a positive test and are seeking confirmation.