INDIANAPOLIS — Today is National Youth HIV and AIDS Awareness Day. Dr. Laura Cheever from the Ryan White HIV-AIDS program says Hoosiers ages 13-to-24 are a critical population to serve.
“It’s more of a challenge for young people to get on medication and stay on medication,” Dr. Cheever said. “That’s why it’s so important that young people know if they have HIV so they can get into treatment.”
The federal program serves about 2,700 in Indiana, and out of those patients, just over five-percent are considered youth. While the adult viral suppression rate is at 87-percent, the rate of suppression for younger patients is lower at 74-percent.
Dr. Cheever says this is because teens and young adults face more barriers before a diagnosis, such as less frequent doctor visits and a lack of health insurance.
New medications have made it possible to live a near normal life without showing symptoms of HIV and AIDS and without spreading the disease. There’s also a new preventive daily medication for those who at high risk of being infected.
High risk populations include ethnic minorities, people living in poverty, and men who have sex with men.