Sexual risk behavior among youth with perinatal HIV infection in the United States: predictors and implications for intervention development

Clin Infect Dis. 2013 Jan;56(2):283-90. doi: 10.1093/cid/cis816. Epub 2012 Nov 7.


Background: Factors associated with initiation of sexual activity among perinatally human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected (PHIV(+)) youth, and the attendant potential for sexual transmission of antiretroviral (ARV) drug-resistant HIV, remain poorly understood.

Methods: We conducted cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses of PHIV(+) youth aged 10-18 years (mean, 13.5 years) enrolled in the US-based Pediatric HIV/AIDS Cohort Study between 2007 and 2009. Audio computer-assisted self-interviews (ACASI) were used to collect sexual behavior information.

Results: Twenty-eight percent (95% confidence interval [CI], 23%-33%) (92/330) of PHIV(+) youth reported sexual intercourse (SI) (median initiation age, 14 years). Sixty-two percent (57/92) of sexually active youth reported unprotected SI. Among youth who did not report history of SI at baseline, ARV nonadherence was associated with sexual initiation during follow-up (adjusted hazard ratio, 2.87; 95% CI, 1.32-6.25). Youth living with a relative other than their biological mother had higher odds of engaging in unprotected SI than those living with a nonrelative. Thirty-three percent of youth disclosed their HIV status to their first sexual partner. Thirty-nine of 92 (42%) sexually active youth had HIV RNA ≥5000 copies/mL after sexual initiation. Viral drug resistance testing, available for 37 of these 39 youth, identified resistance to nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors in 62%, nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors in 57%, protease inhibitors in 38%, and all 3 ARV classes in 22%.

Conclusions: As PHIV(+) youth become sexually active, many engage in behaviors that place their partners at risk for HIV infection, including infection with drug-resistant virus. Effective interventions to facilitate youth adherence, safe sex practices, and disclosure are urgently needed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dangerous Behavior*
  • Drug Resistance, Viral
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / transmission*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Unsafe Sex


  • Anti-HIV Agents