Government Agency Navigation

Adolescent and Young Adult HIV and AIDS


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a disease that destroys cells that are critical to a healthy immune system. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is diagnosed when HIV has weakened the immune system enough that the body has difficulty fighting disease and infections. HIV prevention is a particularly important issue for adolescents and young adults, as these groups experience the majority of new HIV infections. In 2009, those aged 15-29 accounted for 39 percent of all new HIV infections in the U.S., while this age group represented 21 percent of the U.S. population in 2010.1 Early age at sexual initiation, unprotected sex, drug use, older sex partners and lack of awareness places adolescents at an increased risk of contracting HIV.

In 2009, more than 37,000 adolescents and young adults between 13-24 years of age were living with a diagnosed HIV infection. Between 2007 and 2010, the rate of diagnosed HIV infection remained stable for younger adolescents (aged 13-14 years) while increasing for those aged 15-24 years (data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site). A similar pattern by age group was observed for the rate of AIDS diagnosis, with rates increasing for those aged 15-24 years. In 2009, 11,094 persons aged 13-24 years were living with an AIDS diagnosis. Between 2007 and 2009, the rate of deaths with an AIDS diagnosis remained stable for the U.S. population as a whole, but increased among persons aged 20-24 years (data not shown in graph images or in data tables on this site).

Abstaining from sex and drug use is the most effective way to avoid HIV infection. Adolescents and young adults can also reduce their risks by informing themselves of how to negotiate safer sex, where to get tested for HIV, and how to use a condom correctly. The CDC has developed interventions that can be carried out locally to help reduce the risk to adolescents. One such program, Choosing Life: Empowerment! Action! Results! is for those older than 16 years of age and living with HIV infection or AIDS or at high risk for HIV.2

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV Among Youth. Accessed: May 20, 2012.

2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV Surveillance Report, 2010. Accessed: May 20, 2012.


This image is described in the Data section.

HIV and AIDS among adolescents graph


Selected Data on HIV* and AIDS Among Adolescents and Young Adults, by Age, 2009
Status Number of Persons
13-14 years 15-19 years 20-24 years
*Estimated numbers reflect statistical adjustment for reporting delays and missing risk-factor information, but not incomplete reporting. Data for United States and dependent areas.
**Estimates for 2010.
†Estimates for 2009.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV Surveillance Report, 2010; vol. 22. HIV Surveillance Report, Data Tables. Accessed May 23, 2012.
Diagnosed with HIV Infection** 34 2,232 7,675
Diagnosed with AIDS 52 531 2,280
Living with Diagnosed HIV Infection† 1,249 7,455 26,329
Living with an AIDS diagnosis† 491 2,791 7,258
Died with AIDS Diagnosis† 3 35 197