BROOKLYN - New HIV cases among New York City youths are growing at a startling rate, according to a report released Sunday by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn/Queens).

Using data from the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Weiner found 168 people, ages 13 to 19, were diagnosed with HIV in 2006. That's a 29 percent increase from 2004.

The lawmaker says despite infection education efforts being more widespread, 2006 marks the highest level of new teen infection rates since 2001.

Weiner wants to combat infections by expanding flexibility with sex education funds. Current law requires states use federal sex education funds for abstinence-only programs, which the lawmaker says are generally ineffective. He also wants to increase sex education, promote safer syringe use and draw attention to HIV prevention through substance abuse programs.

According to Weiner, there's also a disturbing link between methamphetamine use and increased HIV infections among gay men.

The announcement came as thousands of people laced up their shoes for the annual AIDS Walk New York. Participants walked through Central Park and on city streets in remembrance of friends and relatives lost to the disease.

Organizers say they raised more than $4 million online alone for 2008's walk.