HIV infections in adolescents projected to rise by 60%

By Harriet Dwyer and Patsy Nakell

UNICEF photo

A Mothers 2 Mothers health worker at Mitundu Community Hospital in Malawi holds a baby who was tested and found not to have contracted HIV from his mother. / © UNICEF/UNI201820/Schermbrucker

Urgent action needed to improve HIV prevention and treatment for young people

NEW YORK/JOHANNESBURG, 1 December 2016 – 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, according to a new report released by UNICEF today.

“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. 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.”

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.
  • Prioritizing 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 4 years old.

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

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Notes to editors:
Download multimedia content at: http://weshare.unicef.org/Package/2AMZIF5U8W2
The report is available at: https://www.unicef.org/publications/index_93427.html
More information is available at: www.childrenandaids.org

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For more information contact:
Harriet Dwyer, UNICEF New York, Tel: +1 917 244 2215, hdwyer@unicef.org
Patsy Nakell, UNICEF Johannesburg, +27 76 872 2147 / +27 79 495 5938, pnakell@unicef.org