Boys will be boys: risks and realities for young men with perinatally acquired HIV

Alison Barnes
Head of Strategy and Impact, Body & Soul Charity, London, UK

Adolescence (when a person is aged 10–19) [1] is a time of profound physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development, change and exploration. Because of medication improvements and reduction in mother-to-child transmission (MTCT), most children living with HIV in the UK are now adolescents, and the median age of a child in the CHIPS population (a multi-centre cohort study of children infected by HIV in the UK and in Ireland) is 13.1 years. Approximately one-third of all children living with HIV in the UK are over the age of 15 [2]. While the mortality rate of children living with HIV has greatly decreased since the availability of HAART, it is still disproportionately higher than in non-infected populations.
There are substantial population data about the clinical outcomes of these young people, thanks to the CHIPS study, and a range of high-quality data, abstracts and presentations is available, most of which can be found through the BHIVA, CHIVA, and NHIVNA websites. There is also specific, published information about HIV-positive young women’s sexual health practice and outcomes [3]. Unfortunately, there is currently a dearth of information about the psychosocial experience or needs of adolescent males living with perinatally acquired HIV in the UK [4]. Read more…