FRIDAY, July 18, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Only one in five sexually active U.S. teens has been tested for HIV, a new government report shows.
That percentage is concerning because teens make up a significant share of new HIV infections, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
"We know that one in four new HIV infections occur in young people ages 13 to 24, which is about 12,200 new infections per year in the United States," said lead researcher Laura Kann, chief of the CDC's school-based surveillance branch.
"We have too many kids in this country at risk of HIV infection and we have not enough kids tested for HIV, and we need to do more," Kann said.
The CDC report, which looked at data from 1991 to 2013, is to be presented July 23 at the 2014 International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia.
Given the number of teens infected each year, Kann is at a loss to explain why the HIV testing rate stays at 22 percent.
"It's unclear why we have not been able to increase testing more than we have," she said. "We do have evidence of increased complacency about HIV among teens."
Kann thinks that because HIV can now be treated and is no longer a death sentence, teens may not be worried about being infected.
"Young people today were not around in the early days of the epidemic and did not see the havoc that it wreaked. And there is just not the same emphasis in our society there was previously, so some amount of complacency is there," she said.
Kann said preventing HIV and making sure teens are tested isn't just the responsibility of the CDC, but of communities and parents.
"It's important that teens know about risks, know how to get tested and know how to prevent infection," she
All rights reserved