New HIV Cases on Rise among Those under 25. (Open Approach to TX Is Crucial)

By McNamara, Damian | Clinical Psychiatry News, July 2003 | Go to article overview

New HIV Cases on Rise among Those under 25. (Open Approach to TX Is Crucial)


McNamara, Damian, Clinical Psychiatry News


MIAMI -- More than half of all new HIV infections in the United States now occur in those under age 25 years, so strategies to retain adolescents in health care are crucial, two experts said at a meeting sponsored by the American Foundation for AIDS Research.

"Starting in 15-year-olds and through the 20s, there is a sharp rise in deaths from HIV," said Dr. Lawrence B. Friedman, director of the division of adolescent medicine, University of Miami. And AIDS is the seventh leading cause of death in 15to 24-year-olds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Physicians can make a difference in keeping adolescents in the health care system by adopting an open, nonjudgmental approach to counseling and treatment. Assure patients that all information is kept confidential. Talk to adolescents about psychosocial factors and issues related to school, growing up, life, and community to maximize adherence to health care visits, suggested Dr. Gary Remafedi, professor of pediatrics and director of the University of Minnesota Youth and AIDS Projects, Minneapolis.

Establish a multidisciplinary care plan with clearly defined goals. "We use our nursing and counseling colleagues because teens need support through all aspects of this," said Dr. Friedman. "We try to fit the HIV care into their life, rather than forcing the teen to have a life that fits around their HIV infection," he said. HIV may not be their most pressing concern. Some teenagers may not have a home, for example, or enough money Others face legal and/or juvenile justice system issues.

Teenagers change rapidly, not only in body size and sexual maturation but also behaviorally and intellectually Older adolescents and young adults become future-oriented and goal driven, while younger patients are more concerned with the present. …

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