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Abstract

Twenty percent of AIDS cases in the U.S. occur in individuals in the age range 20 to 29. The mean incubation time, the time from infection to the onset of AIDS, is in the order of 8 years. Therefore, most of these AIDS cases represent HIV infections that occurred during mid- to late-adolescence. About 800 officially reported cases in the age group 13 to 19 have occurred in the U.S. This low occurrence of AIDS should not be a source of complacency in assessing the need to provide education and behavioral alternatives to this age group. As the predominate mode of transmission of HIV infection shifts from gay-male behaviors and intravenous drug abuse (IVDA) to heterosexual intercourse, adolescents may be at significantly increased risk. The occurrence of STDs and early pregnancies indicate a significant rate of high-risk sexual behaviors in adolescents in the U.S. The rate of adolescent HIV infections can be projected by extrapolation from historical data and by epidemiological modeling and computer simulation. The rates of infection projected by these methods are sufficiently congruent to lend credibility to them. A rate of new HIV infections, in individuals in the age range of 13 to 19, in the order of 300,000 annually should be anticipated within the next 10 years.

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