One in three young people with HIV have viral loads above 50,000 when they are linked to care, making them more likely to pass along the virus at that time, aidsmap reports. Publishing their findings in the journal AIDS, investigators analyzed the medical records of 1,409 young people, ages 12 to 24, who were newly linked to HIV care from 2010 to 2011.

A total of 852 participants had records of both CD4 and viral load counts, making them eligible for the study. Seventy-eight percent of them were men; 68 percent identified as gay or bisexual. The average initial CD4 count at the point of linkage to care was 465 and the average viral load 94,398.

Young men who have sex with men (YMSM) had an average viral load of about 125,000, compared with just 47,000 among young heterosexuals. Thirty-one percent of the YMSM had a viral load above 50,000, compared with 22 percent of heterosexuals.

The authors speculate that a contributing factor to these relatively high viral loads is actually that young people are testing earlier. Viral loads tend to be especially high during the period following infection.

To read the aidsmap story, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.