HIV
HIV

New HIV infections among adolescents are projected to rise from 250,000 in 2015 to nearly 400,000 annually by 2030 if progress in reaching adolescents stalls, showed a new report released by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Thursday.

“The world has made tremendous progress in the global effort to end AIDS, but the fight is far from over — especially for children and adolescents,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.

“Every two minutes, another adolescent — most likely a girl — will be infected with HIV,” Lake said. “If we want to end AIDS, we need to recapture the urgency this issue deserves — and redouble our efforts to reach every child and every adolescent.”

The report was issued on World AIDS Day, which falls on Dec. 1.

AIDS remains a leading cause of death among adolescents, claiming the lives of 41,000 adolescents aged 10-19 in 2015, according to the 7th Stocktaking Report on Children and AIDS: For Every Child: End AIDS.

The report proposes strategies for accelerating progress in preventing HIV among adolescents and treating those who are already infected. These include:

— Investing in innovation including in locally grown solutions.

— Strengthening data collection.

— Ending gender discrimination including gender-based violence and countering stigma.

— Prioritising efforts to address adolescents’ vulnerabilities by providing combination prevention efforts including pre-exposure prophylaxis, cash transfers and comprehensive sexuality education.

Globally, there were nearly 2 million adolescents aged 10-19 living with HIV in 2015. In sub-Saharan Africa, the region most impacted by HIV, girls accounted for three out of every four new infections among adolescents aged 15-19.

Other findings in the report include:

— Remarkable progress has been made in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Globally, 1.6 million new infections among children were averted between 2000 and 2015.

— 1.1 million children, adolescents and women were newly infected in 2015.

— Children aged 0-4 living with HIV face the highest risk of AIDS-related deaths, compared with all other age groups, and they are often diagnosed and treated too late.

Only half of the babies born to HIV-positive mothers receive an HIV test in their first two months, and the average age that treatment begins among children with vertically acquired HIV in sub-Saharan Africa is nearly four years old.

Despite progress in averting new infections and reducing deaths, funding for the AIDS response has declined since 2014, UNICEF said.

World AIDS Day, observed every year since 1988, is dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection, and mourning those who have died of the disease.

Government and health officials, non-governmental organizations and individuals around the world observe the day, often with education on AIDS prevention and control.

The World Day is one of the eight official global public health campaigns marked by the World Health Organization (WHO), along with World Health Day, World Blood Donor Day, World Immunization Week, World Tuberculosis Day, World No Tobacco Day, World Malaria Day and World Hepatitis Day. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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