Why is National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Important?
Given the significant impact of HIV on youth, just over a month ago, on April 10th, the HIV community observed National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD). Mr. Harold J. Phillips, MRP, Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP), participated in a roundtable discussion hosted by Advocates for YouthExit Disclaimer to discuss emerging issues for youth with or impacted by HIV. The roundtable, moderated by Armonte Butler, Advocates for Youth Associate Director, LGBTQ Health & Rights, also included Tyra Gravesande, NYHAAD youth ambassador; Eunice Mejiadeu, NYHAAD youth ambassador; and Erika Ninoyu, Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s Senior Legislative Assistant.
In his remarks, Mr. Phillips discussed the disparities seen in youth with HIV. In 2021, 53% of new HIV diagnoses among youth aged 13–24 were among Black youthExit Disclaimer. Additionally, according to AIDSVuExit Disclaimer, the disparity is even more stark among young Black women—in 2020, over 61% of young women with HIV were Black. In 2021, young people under age 24 accounted for 19% of new HIV diagnoses but only 13% of PrEP usersExit Disclaimer. In addition, young people face challenges in accessing and maintaining HIV treatment—only 81% of young people (aged 13–24) were linked to HIV care in 2021Exit Disclaimer, the lowest rate of any age group. Mr. Phillips reminded the audience that it is for these reasons that youth aged 13–24 are included as a priority population in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS), and several action items in the NHAS Federal Implementation Plan are specifically targeted to address youth populations.
The roundtable’s panelists discussed the need for youth and students to receive scientifically factual, honest, and culturally competent sexual health education that includes information on HIV and its effects on Black and Latino communities, as well as the critical role HBCUs can play in increasing access for youth to HIV-related services. Additionally, the youth panelists discussed the need for students to be able to access services at times and locations that work for their lives. Also highlighted were the intersectional nature of HIV and the need to build coalitions and partnerships across related issues such mental and behavioral health, sexual health education, and trauma and violence. Ms. Ninoyu from Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s office highlighted the Congressional Resolution (PDF, 228KB) Ms. Lee sponsored in awareness of NYHAAD.
For additional information about NYHAAD, please read HIV.gov’s earlier blog which includes resources to support the ongoing efforts to reduce HIV and AIDS in this community.