The news this week from the Centers for Disease Control about HIV and young people may have startled some, but to people who work at San Francisco’s Larkin Street Youth Services, it was a spotlight on what they see every day.
More than a quarter of all new infections every year are in young people between ages 13 and 24 — and more than half of those youth infected don’t know it. Hardest hit are African Americans — 57 percent of people in this young age group.
In advance of World AIDS Day on Saturday, The California Report’s host Rachael Myrow visited Larkin Street Youth Services, which helps homeless teens get off the streets and get tested for HIV. She talked to two women who manage programs at the organization.
Here is an edited transcript of their discussion:
LARA TANNENBAUM, Larkin Street’s housing programs: The majority of our youth have experienced a severe amount of abuse or neglect in the home, parental substance use, perhaps a lot of poverty in the home where families weren’t able to care for them. Many of our clients are LGBT and their parents asked them to leave because of their sexual orientation. So people really become homeless for a variety of reasons.
RACHAEL MYROW: How do you start a conversation with a teenager about HIV/AIDS?
RAE SUBER, Larkin Street’s HIV testing & prevention program: Getting a client to consider testing is like getting them to consider medical care in general. Usually there’s a crisis. They think they might have a sexually transmitted infection. They think they might be pregnant. They think their partner might have an infection or be pregnant, and they’re concerned. So they come in and, if testing is indicated, we’ll recommend it. Continue reading