In this high-tech, super-information age, a stunning amount of ignorance about a deadly disease continues, especially among young people, a study released this week shows. Officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, issuing their latest report on the nation's HIV/AIDS infection rate as a prelude to World AIDS Day on Saturday, called the results "shocking," "astonishing" and "just unacceptable."Their findings are definitely disturbing: Of the 50,000 new cases of HIV infection each year, 26 percent (or about 1,000 a month) are in young people ages 13-24. The study estimates that about 60 percent of those newly infected don't know it, and a large number continue to engage in risky behavior.HIV isn't a disease that affects only gay men, but they remain a high-risk group. The CDC reported that 72 percent of young people infected with HIV are men who have sex with other men. Young black gay and bisexual men account for 39 percent of all new infections among youths. That's an increase of 48 percent from 2006 to 2009.Health officials and AIDS workers attribute the rising infection rate to numerous factors: lack of education,; unsafe sex practices, fewer people getting tested, less access to the healthcare system for some, and the stigma homosexuality still has in the minority community.In the eight-county region of North Central Texas served by the AIDS Outreach Center, there are 4,464 people known to be living with HIV/AIDS, according to the 2010 Texas HIV Surveillance Report. Many more people, though, apparently carry the virus for a long time before discovering they're sick.In 40 percent of those newly diagnosed with HIV in Fort Worth and Arlington, the disease had already progressed into AIDS, the surveillance report indicated.That statistic underscores the need for more and earlier testing, something the CDC has recommended for years.Last week, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended HIV screening as part of each routine physical check-up and said everyone between ages 15 and 64 (whether in a high-risk group or not) should be tested at least once. The task force suggested that a voluntary HIV test should be as common as mammograms or cholesterol tests.It's understandable that people who are in monogamous relationships or who don't engage in risky behaviors might not want to get tested for a disease that's primarily transmitted through sexual contact. But with the infection rate increasing and a large number of those carrying the virus unaware of the danger they pose to themselves and others, the public health hazards make it essential to discuss whether it's more costly to expand testing or not to do it.Young people also must be made to understand the responsibilities and perils of their sexual practices. They need to know the biology and physiology of human relations, but also the risks. This kind of education should start at home, and schools cover it in health, biology and other classes. There also are other opportunities, such as through churches, community centers and other activities, to increase their understanding.Some experts say not enough is being done. CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said, "It is astonishing, the level of ignorance about basic physiology among middle school and high school students."Many strides have been made since the peak of the HIV/AIDS epidemic 25 years ago, but the fact that new medication and treatment are enabling many HIV-positive people to live longer doesn't mean the challenges are over.On World AIDS Day, we must renew our commitment to eradicate this disease -- through scientific breakthroughs as well as increased education and awareness about personal behavior and responsibility.