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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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*Supported in part by the Carnegie Corporation & Samuel & May Rudin Fndn. (Views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily of the Foundations.)
© 1988 Springer-Verlag New York Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.