Op-Ed: Legislators, remove barriers to HIV prevention for youths
Hartford Courant OP-ED
April 10, 2019
Krystn Wagner, MD
Dr. Wagner is the director of HIV and infectious disease at Fair Haven Community Health Care in New Haven. She is partnering with the Center for Children’s Advocacy Medical-Legal Partnership to encourage passage of this legislation.
A 17-year-old at our school-based health center was looking forward to graduation and college, not adjusting to a new HIV diagnosis and a lifetime of costly treatment. He was aware of safer sex and had heard that PrEP was a medication that virtually eliminates the risk of HIV infection. But in order to start PrEP, he’d have to get his parents’ consent, which would mean coming out as a sexually active, gay youth — a conversation he was not yet able to have.
Two months before graduation, he participated in the school’s HIV testing day and discovered that he had joined roughly 60,000 American youths living with HIV.
This was three years ago. Since then, approximately 100 Connecticut youth and young adults have been diagnosed with HIV each year. While teenagers are becoming more familiar with PrEP, the missed opportunities to prevent new adolescent HIV infections continue.