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Figure 1: AIDS Cases Among Adolescents and Young Adults
Ages 13-24, By Age Group, Reported through 1991(d)
Special data request prepared by Reporting and Analysis Section, Surveillance
Heterosexual Transmission More Common Among Youth, Smaller Proportion of AIDS Cases in Youth Related to Injecting Drug Use
The epidemiology of AIDS cases among teens and young adults (ages 13-24) differs from that of older adults in several important ways. Adolescents and young adults are more likely than adults to have acquired the virus through heterosexual transmission, or as a result of exposure to contaminated blood and blood products, and are less likely to have been infected as a result of homosexual activity or injecting drug use.
As shown in Table 2, the mode of transmission varies significantly by gender. Transmission through heterosexual contact accounts for 45% of AIDS cases among teenage females, compared with 2% of AIDS cases in males ages 13-19. It should also be noted that a large proportion of AIDS cases among young teens is related to hemophilia in males or blood transfusions. By mid- and late adolescence, however, the mode of transmission shifts dramatically to sexual transmission (both heterosexual or homosexual)."
AIDS Cases Among Adolescents and Adults, By Gender and Exposure Category, Reported Through 1991(e)
Injecting drug use
(26.9) ( 1.9) (45.3) (12.3) (13.7)
(47.1) ( 3.8) ( 9.4)
6,496 1,589 1,401 19,618
CDC. January 1992. op cit.; Special data run January 13, 1992. Division of HIV/AIDS, Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease
Females and Minorities Represent Greater Proportion of Cases of AIDS in Youth
Among individuals with AIDS, younger adults and teens are more likely than older adults to be female and members of a racial or ethnic minority group. While the majority of U.S. AIDS cases are reported among men, women now account for more than 10% of all U.S. cases among adolescents and adults (ages 13 and older). In fact, during 1991, the number of AIDS cases among adolescent and adult women increased by 37%, compared with 27% among men."2
Comparing the ratio of AIDS cases between men and women provides further evidence of the important role that heterosexual transmission of HIV plays among teens and young adults." Among AIDS cases diagnosed in persons ages 25 or older, nine men are diagnosed for each diagnosis among women. In cases among persons ages 20-24, the ratio of males to females is less than five to one, and in teens it drops to less than three cases among males for each case reported among females.
Racial and ethnic minority populations are disproportionately represented among AIDS cases at all age levels. This is especially true among teens and younger adults. As shown in Table 3, compared with AIDS cases among adults over age 24, African-American, Hispanic, and other racial and ethnic minority youth account for a greater proportion of AIDS cases among persons under age 25. While African Americans represent 15.2% of the U.S. population ages 13-19, they represent 37% of all AIDS cases reported in that age group. Similarly, Hispanics represent 11.7% of the teens, but 19% of AIDS cases reported among persons ages 13-19.
Based on 1990 Census data, 80.2% of the U.S. population ages 13-19 is white, 15.2% is African-American, 3.5% is Asian/Pacific Islander, and 1.1% is American Indian Native American. Teens with Hispanic origin represent 11.7% of the U.S. population ages 13-19, however, Hispanic persons may be of any race. Therefore, the percentages noted here reflect overlapping groups. Special data run, U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Population Division. March 2, 1992.