On April 10, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) recognized National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD). This day is an opportunity to raise awareness of the impact of HIV/AIDS on youth and highlight the work we are doing to provide care, treatment, and support for youth and young adults with HIV.
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, of the nearly 38,000 new HIV diagnoses in the U.S., 21 percent were among youth, particularly young Black/African American men. Youth with HIV are also the least likely of any age group to be aware of their HIV status, retained in care, and have a suppressed viral load.
In the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP), we are dedicated to helping youth and young adults diagnosed with HIV get care, treatment, and support services. In 2020, 3.5% of all RWHAP clients were youth and young adults aged 13-24. Of these clients, 81.5% were virally suppressed. This is a significant increase from 46.6% in 2010, but it is still below the national RWHAP viral suppression average of 89.4%.
We must continue to engage and retain youth and young adults in HIV care and treatment to end the HIV epidemic in the U.S. Our RWHAP recipients developed several resources and interventions to support young adults with HIV, including:
- Building Futures: Supporting Youth Living with HIV, a project which identified best practices for enhancing services to youth with HIV to improve health outcomes and viral suppression
- Emerging interventions for youth and young adults outlined in our Best Practices Compilation
- Trainings and resources from the RWHAP AIDS Education and Training Centers for health care providers working with adolescents and young adults
Additionally, the RWHAP Special Projects of National Significance-funded initiatives include the Center for Innovation and Engagement, which has youth-focused, evidenced-informed interventions. These interventions meet young people where they are and address barriers to care and issues that influence youth engagement in HIV care—such as stigma, substance use, and healthy relationships.
In honor of NYHAAD, we encourage you to view these resources and share them with your colleagues and communities. Together we can help engage more youth and young adults with HIV into care and treatment.