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HIV/AIDS Still Top Killer of Global Adolescents

The 21st International AIDS Conference was inaugurated on July 18 in Durban, South Africa. "After all of the wonderful milestones achieved, AIDS is still the number two cause of death for those aged 10-19 globally – and number one in Africa,” Anthony Lake, UNICEF’s executive director, told delegates here.
Remarkable achievements in HIV/AIDS response
UNICEF said new infections among children due to transmission at birth or during breastfeeding have decreased dramatically since 2000, dropping by 70 per cent globally in the period, including Sub-Saharan Africa with the highest HIV infection rate and AIDS-related mortality.
In the past 15 years, PMTCT program has averted about 1.6 million HIV infections among children.
In the meantime, ART has saved the lives of 8.8 million people.
Not optimistic situation
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned that adolescents aged 10-19 years are dying of AIDS at an alarming rate. HIV/AIDS is still top killer of global adolescents only second to traffic accidents.
AIDS-related deaths among people aged between 15 and 19 have more than doubled since 2000.
Although the proportion of new infections is stable, UNICEF still worries about the anticipated increase of HIV-infected adolescents in the next several years, which will means the increase of total PLWHA.
More girls get infected
In 2015, an average of 29 adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19 are infected with HIV every hour. Just six countries -- all but one in Africa -- accounted for half of new infections among under-14s: India, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania.
Girls are particularly vulnerable, making up about 65 per cent of new adolescent infections worldwide. In sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for about 70 per cent of people in the world living with HIV, three out of every four adolescents newly infected by HIV in 2015 were girls.
Fear of testing keeps many young people unaware of their status. Among adolescents, only 13 per cent of girls and 9 per cent of boys were tested within the last year. A new poll conducted on U-report, shows that an estimated 68 per cent of 52,000 young people surveyed in 16 countries said they did not want to be tested, both because they were afraid of an HIV-positive result, and because they were worried about social stigma.
"The undeniable progress we have made in the last three decades does not mean that our struggle is over. The battle against AIDS will not be over until we redouble prevention and treatment efforts; until we reach those young lives still being denied the progress that millions before them have enjoyed; and until we end the stigma and fear that prevent so many young people from getting tested," Lake said.
The 21st International AIDS Conference was held from July 18 to 22, and brings together 18,000 scientists, politicians, activists and donors. It is the largest global HIV/AIDS thematic conference, primarily focusing on global HIV transmission, various problems related to HIV/AIDS, progress in HIV/AIDS response, new achievements in scientific research, and R&D of vaccines and new medicines. (Source:, July 22, 2016)