Understanding the Experiences of Young Folks Living with HIV
The CDC reports that in 2017, young people aged 13 to 24 made up 21 percent (8,164) of the 38,739 new HIV diagnoses in the United States and dependent areas. The majority of these young people were Black and/or Latinx young men who have sex with men (YMSM). Young people living with HIV are the least likely of any age group to be linked to care in a timely manner and the least likely to have a suppressed viral load.
Young people living with HIV face compounded challenges including homophobia, racism, poverty, isolation, and HIV stigma. These barriers can impact their health literacy and self-esteem resulting in high rates of homelessness, poor mental health, and increased use of drugs and alcohol. Addressing HIV in youth requires that young people have access to information and tools to get treatment and care and to thrive.
Mentorship is one evidence-based strategy to dismantle some of these challenges, foster community among young people living with HIV and their allies, and help young people living with HIV find their own voices and advocate for their own needs when championing their health. Ultimately, quality mentorship programs support youth living with HIV to live long, healthy and fulfilling lives.
The Toolkit includes a variety of sections and resources on the challenges young people living with HIV face when transitioning into adult care and how mentorship serves as a bridge.