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A Hollywood floodlight shines on health crisis for vulnerable youth

Jared Leto won an Oscar for his role as a transgender AIDS patient in “Dallas Buyers Club.”

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Jared Leto won an Oscar for his role as a transgender AIDS patient in “Dallas Buyers Club.”

Thank you for your editorial about Jared Leto’s Oscar acceptance speech (“Hollywood and public health: Jared Leto vs. complacency,” March 4). It is critical that young people understand that, as you write, “the battle against AIDS is far from won.” Here in Massachusetts, where we lead the nation in terms of health outcomes for those living with HIV and in lowering the rates of HIV diagnoses, an astounding 12 percent of new HIV diagnoses occur among teens and young adults ages 13 to 24.

Couple that with increased overdoses related to opioid use among young people, which your newspaper has closely chronicled in recent weeks, and a rate of hepatitis C infection among teens and young adults that shot up 74 percent between 2002 and 2009, and we have a public health crisis on our hands.

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Young people, particularly those who are most vulnerable to poor health as a result of homelessness, poverty, or other life circumstances, need many things upon which to build a healthy future. Access to information is a good place to start.

Keith Orr

Director of gay men’s

prevention services

AIDS Action Committee

Boston

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