As a generation of children perinatally infected with HIV ages into adolescence thanks to antiretrovirals, new research has found that they are engaging in high-risk behaviors, MedPage Today reports. In a paper published online in Clinical Infectious Diseases that addresses the dearth of scientific knowledge about the sexual practices of HIV-positive young people, researchers stressed that interventions are “urgently needed” to encourage HIV-positive adolescents to engage in safer-sex practices, disclosure their serostatus to sexual partners, and to adhere to their medications.

After gathering information from 330 HIV-positive young people between the ages of 10 and 18, researchers found that 30 percent of the males and 26 percent of the females reported having sex, with a median age of 14 for the first-time experience. Sixty-two percent of the sexually active young people reported having unprotected intercourse. A third of them disclosed their HIV status to their first sexual partner. The researchers also found a link between risky sexual behaviors and lack of medication adherence. Furthermore, 42 percent of the sexually active adolescents experienced at least one viral load measurement of 5,000 or greater after becoming sexually active. Among that group, 81 percent had drug-resistant virus, raising the risk of transmitting such strains to others.

To read the MedPage Today story, click here.

For a link to the study's abstract, click here.