Having high knowledge about HIV and engaging in risky sexual activity do not make high-school-aged teens more likely to get tested for HIV. Those are the findings of a new study by researchers at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. The study of nearly 1,000 Bronx, NY teens found those most likely to be tested for HIV had strong partner communication about HIV and were in committed relationships. This is the first-ever study to understand the role that partners play in HIV testing behavior of this patient population and was published in the November issue of the journal AIDS Patient Care and STDs.
“Despite efforts to educate about the risks of HIV and AIDS in schools, it is clear that more is needed to prompt adolescents to speak up and take the next step of getting tested,” said Hina J. Talib, M.D., adolescent medicine physician at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore and assistant professor of pediatrics at Einstein. “Early identification of HIV in adolescents is associated with earlier treatment and better health outcomes, so it is especially important that these sexually active high-school-aged adolescents be tested.”
The computer-assisted survey was completed by 980 sexually active 14- to 17-year-olds living in the Bronx, an area with a high AIDS burden. More than half of those surveyed were female (56%) and Latino (55%), and 428 (44%) had been tested for HIV. In addition, 54 percent of those in a serious committed relationship had been tested for HIV, compared to 44 percent of all participants. Sixty percent of those who had high HIV-related partner communication got tested and 48 percent of those who reported high openness of communication and comfort discussing sex with their partners had been tested for HIV. Participants who had high HIV/AIDS-related partner communication were 3.7 times more likely to have been tested than those with low communication. High HIV knowledge includes understanding of transmission of HIV, protection from exposure and treatment.
“These findings highlight opportunities for healthcare providers to include a discussion of the partner’s testing status when counseling adolescents about HIV testing,” said Dr. Talib. “We should include partner communication modules when designing high impact interventions to encourage HIV testing for these minority adolescents who need it most.”
Participants were paid $25 for completing the survey and written parental permission was obtained. Funding for this study was provided by the National Institute of Mental Health (RO1MH070299) and National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01DAO19095), both parts of the National Institutes of Health.
This study was conducted in collaboration with Susan M. Coupey, M.D., chief, division of adolescent medicine, The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, professor of pediatrics, Einstein; Ellen Silver, Ph.D., associate professor of pediatrics at Einstein; and Laurie Bauman, Ph.D., director, Preventive Intervention Research Center and professor of pediatrics, Einstein.
About Montefiore Medical Center
As the University Hospital for Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore is a premier academic medical center nationally renowned for its clinical excellence, scientific discovery and commitment to its community. Recognized among the top hospitals nationally and regionally by U.S. News & World Report, Montefiore provides compassionate, patient- and family-centered care and educates the healthcare professionals of tomorrow. The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore is consistently named in U.S. News’ “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals,” and is second among those in the New York metro area. With four hospitals, 1,491 beds and 90,000 annual admissions, Montefiore is an integrated health system seamlessly linked by advanced technology. State-of-the-art primary and specialty care is provided through a network of more than 130 locations across the region, including the largest school health program in the nation and a home health program. Montefiore’s partnership with Einstein advances clinical and translational research to accelerate the pace at which new discoveries become the treatments and therapies that benefit patients. The medical center derives its inspiration for excellence from its patients and community, and continues to be on the frontlines of developing innovative approaches to care.
About Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University
Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University is one of the nation’s premier centers for research, medical education and clinical investigation. During the 2013-2014 academic year, Einstein is home to 734 M.D. students, 236 Ph.D. students, 106 students in the combined M.D./Ph.D. program, and 353 postdoctoral research fellows. The College of Medicine has more than 2,000 full-time faculty members located on the main campus and at its clinical affiliates. In 2013, Einstein received more than $155 million in awards from the NIH. This includes the funding of major research centers at Einstein in diabetes, cancer, liver disease, and AIDS. Other areas where the College of Medicine is concentrating its efforts include developmental brain research, neuroscience, cardiac disease, and initiatives to reduce and eliminate ethnic and racial health disparities. Its partnership with Montefiore Medical Center, the University Hospital and academic medical center for Einstein, advances clinical and translational research to accelerate the pace at which new discoveries become the treatments and therapies that benefit patients. Through its extensive affiliation network involving Montefiore, Jacobi Medical Center–Einstein’s founding hospital, and five other hospital systems in the Bronx, Manhattan, Long Island and Brooklyn, Einstein runs one of the largest residency and fellowship training programs in the medical and dental professions in the United States.
Albert Einstein College of Medicine