Research Updates from Advocates for Youth

Advocates for Youth, a premier organization dedicated to protecting and promoting the sexual health of young people in the US and globally has just published its Summer 2012 Newletter. Below are some of the research updates cited in this issue. Read the issue in its entirety.

  • Teen condom use over the last 2 decades has increased but work is still needed. In this week’s MMWR on trends in HIV-related risk behaviors among high school students we learn that while condom use among sexually active high school students has increased over time (from 45 percent in 1991 to 60 percent in 2011), it has leveled off since 2003 – indicating that progress has stalled. Among Black students, who experience higher rates of HIV than white students, condom use has actually decreased significantly since 1999. Lawrence Stallworth, an activist with Advocates for Youth and Cleveland AIDS Task Force, commented on the rise in new infections among young African American men who have sex with men in this AP article.
  • A new report from the Black AIDS Institute has devastating news about the HIV epidemic and Black gay men “A young Black gay man has a roughly 1-in-4 chance of being infected by age 25. By the time he is 40 years old, the odds a Black gay men will be living with HIV is roughly 60 percent. One can scour the entire world and struggle to find a population more heavily affected by HIV/AIDS than Black gay in the U.S.”
  • The drug Truvada was recently approved as “pre exposure prophylaxis” for HIV, meaning that people who are at high risk for HIV may use it as HIV prevention. More guidance as to its usage is expected from the FDA and other public health entities by the end of this year.
  • The HPV vaccine may already be creating “herd immunity.” “Herd immunity” is a term that refers to when vaccination protects even those who are not vaccinated by reducing the number of people who are susceptible to a disease and breaking the chain of infection. The study found that between a group of young women ages 13-26 seen at a clinic in 2006, and a group seen in 2009 after the vaccine was widely available, rates of HPV had dropped by 50 percent even among those who had not received the vaccination. The participants in the study were low-income African American women living in an urban area; nationwide, urban African American young women experience high rates of STDs, which this vaccine may help lower.

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