Prevalence of HIV Infection among Young Adults in the United States

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Prevalenceof HIV Infection among Young Adults in the United States: ResultsFrom the Add Health Study

Prevalenceof AIDS continues to rise despite the believe that both AIDS and

HIVin the United States estimated incidences are stable. Halfinfections identified through AIDS surveillance systems occur amongindividuals of 25 years and below where young women and non-HispanicBlacks are the most affected. However CDC surveillance data on HIVprevalence in the United States finding are limited because thesystem only identifies those willing to be tested for HIV and thosewho fit screening profiles, the testing rate outside of thepopulations at highest risk remains below 50%, testing occur late inthe course of infection and finally the system does not include allstates or and thus may not provide representative data.

Alternativesources of data on HIV infection among young people include backcalculation and surveys. Back calculation is however less feasiblewith the increasingly widespread use of antiretroviral therapy andthe fact that, most recent reliable back-calculation estimates arenow a decade old. Population-based surveys on the other hand requirevery large samples to provide reliable estimates for low prevalencepopulations.

AddHealth, collected three waves of data: wave I during September 1994to December 1995, wave II, April to August 1996, and wave III, August2001 through April 2002. The primary sampling units were the schools,representatives drawn with respect to region of the country,urbanism, school type, ethnicity, and school size. Out of wave Ipopulation which was 18924, 75.7% , participated all the way to waveIII. The result showed prevalence rate among young adults in to be isapproximately 1 per 1000. Infection rates were slightly higher amongyoung men than among young women, and there are large differencesbetween non-Hispanic Blacks and members of other racial/ethnicgroups.

Theproblem statement in this study has focused HIV prevalence among theyoung adults. Previous studies which showed infection among the youngadults to be half of the entire population studied form the basis forthe problem statement in this study. However the problem is notclearly stated pertaining infections among the young adults but focusmore on continued rise of HIV infections in the USA.

Thepurpose of the study is to explore the prevalence of HIV infectionamong the young adults in the United States. Based on the previousstudies the hypotheses of the study is that, there is a highprevalence rate of HIV infection among the young adults and thatthere are racial disparities in HIV infections, the blacks being themost affected. The key terms in this study are however not definedand this could lead to misinterpretation of the meanings andfindings.

Thecited sources in the literature review are mostly related to HIVinfection and are mostly research based. However, the study being onHIV infection prevalence among the young adults, a review of severalsources on youths and HIV infections in the USA could have been done.The review is thus not comprehensive. Considering the time the studywas conducted, between 1994 and 2002 the sources used are valid. This research used descriptive survey method and probabilitysampling. Random selection of samples and Statistical Package forSocial Sciences used to conduct a descriptive analysis.

Althoughbased on the finding by the CDC HIV surveillance system in 2001,which reported half of all infections occur among individuals youngerthan 25 years, this study is original as it narrowed to study youngadults and HIV infections. On the other hand, there is replication. Although it points out the limitation of available data on HIVprevalence rates among young people, citing that CDC surveillancesystem identifies only those who choose to be tested for HIV andthose who fit screening profiles, this study also involved those whochoose to be tested for HIV and those who fit screening profilesonly.

The measurement tools included laboratory tests, carried out toassess the health status and interviews to explore the causes ofhealth-related behaviors. Specimens were collected and shipped tothe laboratory facility where presence of HIV-1 antibodies wastested. However the pilot study was not conducted. It could havehelped to test the feasibility, equipment and methods to be used inthe study and hence increase reliability of findings.

Inthis study, HIV infection is the independent variable while the youngadults are the dependent variable. Random sampling helped to drawthe samples where participants were drawn with respect to region ofthe country, urbanism, school type, ethnicity, and school size.Percentage of each stratum is however not indicated.

Quantitativedata was collected from the laboratory test while qualitative datafrom the interviews. Estimates from a published study were combinedwith the results from Add Health and analyzed using StatisticalPackage for Social Science. The findings does not really support thehypotheses as it was found out that the estimated overall HIVprevalence was about 1 per 1000. However racial disparities supportthe hypotheses whereby non-Hispanic Blacks were the most affected. The weaknesses and the problems that would affect the findings arehowever well discussed and based on them the results could not begeneralized.

Theconclusions of this study has diverted attention and concentratedmost on racial disparities on rates of sexually transmittedinfections other than concentrating on overall young adults and HIVinfections. Implications for HIV research and prevention have beendiscussed although implications of the findings in relation to youngadults in the region have been overlooked. Although the findings aredirectly related to the young adults in the USA the results can onlybe generalized to the population represented in the sample.

Theneed to better understand the relational context of HIV riskbehavior individual knowledge and attitudes as only part of thesolution is the major recommendation. A better understanding of thelinks between individual behavior, partnership dynamics, andtransmission networks has also been encouraged.

Inconclusion the study is informative and essential in efforts to curbthe increase of HIV infections. However the subject underinvestigation need to be updated to the current as the article isabout the study conducted between 1994 and 2001. The arrangement interms of the structure is not straightforward. For example themethodology and how the sampling was done not clearly.


Morris,M. et al., (2006). Prevalence of HIV infection among young adults inthe United States: Results from the Add Health Study. AmericanJournal of Public Health. Vol96, No 6.