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National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day

April 10, 2013 marked the first ever National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD). The Office of National AIDS Policy included the following statement in honor of the day in a blog post on the White House website:

At AIDS 2012, the international AIDS conference, youth advocates announced the inauguration of National Youth HIV + AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) to be marked on April 10, 2013. In establishing this observance, Advocates for Youth and the eleven other founding partners are recognizing the key role of youth in our collective response to HIV. The organizers note that “the creation of National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day is a step toward addressing the needs of young people in the fight against HIV and AIDS.”[1]

Additionally, a congressional resolution was introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate to recognize NYHAAD every year.[2] The resolution, sponsored by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA-13) in the House and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) in the Senate, recognizes federal programs including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Adolescent and School Health in supporting HIV prevention in schools; the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Part D, linking HIV positive youth to medical care, support, and services; and Affordable Care Act provisions including funding sex education to ensure young people are taught about HIV/AIDS, prohibiting denials of care to HIV positive patients, and expanded access to Medicaid helping HIV-positive youth receive care. 

Congresswoman Lee also hosted a Capitol Hill briefing on NYHAAD, where speakers discussed the current state of the HIV & AIDS epidemic among young people, the need for action, and the importance of young people being partners in the fight against AIDS. During the briefing Congresswoman Lee encouraged attendees to continue to include young people at the table. [3]

The current state of HIV & AIDS among youth was characterized by Dr. Rob Garofalo, Director at the Center for Gender, Sexuality and HIV Prevention, and Director of Adolescent HIV Services at Ann & Robert H Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, as a missed opportunity because we should have seen this coming.  The current status of HIV & AIDS among young people in the U.S. was highlighted in the briefing, including the following statistics:

  • 1 in 4 new HIV infections is among youth ages 13 to 24
  • 1,000 young people acquire HIV every month
  • Over 76,000 young people are currently living with HIV in the U.S.
  • 60% of HIV positive youth do not know they carry HIV

Youth activists speaking at the Capitol Hill briefing emphasized the importance of healthy relationships as part of sexuality education, the need for youth-friendly health care services and the significance of youth leaders and leadership development, as peer to peer counseling, education, and assistance have proven affective at increasing rates of HIV testing and care among young people.

[1]Office of National AIDS Policy, “National Youth HIV + AIDS Awareness Day,” April 10, 2013, accessed April 29, 2013,

[2] H. Res. 148, Supporting the goals and ideals of National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day, accessed April 10, 2013,

[3]Congresswoman Barbara Lee Marks First-Ever National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, accessed April 10, 2013,