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

Katherine Tassiopoulos*, Anna Barbara Moscicki, Claude Mellins, Deborah Kacanek, Kathleen Malee, Susannah Allison, Rohan Hazra, George K. Siberry, Renee Smith, Mary Paul, Russell B. Van Dyke, George R. Seage

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-290
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2013


  • adolescents
  • disclosure
  • perinatally HIV-infected
  • sexual initiation
  • viral drug resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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