Review Article| Volume 1, ISSUE 2, P73-82, 1988

Human immunodeficiency virus infection in adolescence: A rationale for action

  • Karen Hein
    Address reprint requests to: Karen Hein, M.D., Department of Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center NW674, 111 East 210th Street, Bronx, NY 10467, USA.
    Department of Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center NW674, Bronx, New York
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  • Marsha Hurst
    Health Advocacy Program, Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, New York
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      At present, less than 600 American adolescents have been diagnosed as having AIDS, but the prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection among youth is unknown. Though attention is currently focused on groups that account for a higher percent of cases, there are reasons to believe that adolescents are a low-incidence, but potentially high-risk group for AIDS. Analysis of recent data about the AIDS epidemic's geographic distribution, age, sex, and ethnic/racial characteristics provide a rationale for extension of infection into certain segments of the adolescent population. Aspects of adolescent physiology, sexual and drug-related behavior, and development are examined in the context of AIDS risk. Legal, ethical, economic, and sociopolitical ramifications are explored. A model is proposed that provides a conceptual framework for analysis of relative risk of HIV infection in various adolescent subgroups. This model can be used as a basis for recommendations related to HIV infection in adolescents.

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