High school–aged teens in the Bronx, New York, who engage in risky sex and who also have a high level of knowledge about HIV are not more inclined to undergo testing for the virus. Those who are the most likely to get an HIV test are the teens who are in committed relationships and who have strong communications about the virus with their partners.

“Despite efforts to educate about the risks of HIV and AIDS in schools, it is clear that more is needed to prompt adolescents to speak up and take the next step of getting tested,” Hina J. Talib, MD, adolescent medicine physician at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore and assistant professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College, said in a release. “Early identification of HIV in adolescents is associated with earlier treatment and better health outcomes, so it is especially important that these sexually active high school–aged adolescents be tested.”
Publishing their findings in AIDS Patient Care and STDs, researchers at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University conducted a computer-assisted survey of 980 sexually active 14- to 17-year-olds in the Bronx. The sample was 56 percent female and 55 percent Latino.

While 44 percent (428) of the participants had undergone HIV testing, 54 percent of the participants who were in a committed relationship had done so. Those who had high levels of communication about HIV with their partners had tested at a rate of 60 percent, and the participants who had high levels of openness of communication and comfort in discussing sex with their partners did so at a rate of 48 percent. Those with high marks in communicating about HIV with partners were 3.7 times more likely to have received an HIV test than those with low marks in this realm.

“These findings highlight opportunities for health care providers to include a discussion of the partner’s testing status when counseling adolescents about HIV testing,” Talib said. “We should include partner communication modules when designing high impact interventions to encourage HIV testing for these minority adolescents who need it most.”

To read the release, click here.