AIDS is the leading cause of death among adolescents (10–19 years) in Africa, and the second leading cause of deaths among adolescents globally. The majority of these deaths are among adolescents who acquired HIV as babies and lived to their teenage years - yet did not survive for reasons including never having been diagnosed with HIV, having slipped out of care, or not having responded successfully to HIV treatment.
Of the 670,000 young people (ages 15–24) who were newly infected with HIV in 2015, more than one third (250,000) were adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19. In sub-Saharan Africa, 3 in 4 new infections in 15–19 year olds are among girls and the number of adolescents living with HIV has increased by 28 per cent since 2005. The population of 10-to-24 year olds in Africa is surging and is projected to reach nearly 750 million in a little more than a decade. This 'youth bulge' is the reason HIV infections among adolescents are anticipated to increase even if the current reduction in HIV incidence rate is maintained.
Globally, treatment and care responses for adolescents have lagged significantly behind paediatric and adult treatment programmes. Lack of access to testing, treatment and counselling has contributed to the continued rise in AIDS-related deaths among adolescents. Sexual transmission and injection drug use continue to be the main modes of transmission among adolescents who were not infected during infancy.
Critical services for prevention, treatment and care remain out of reach or are inadequately designed to meet the needs of the most vulnerable adolescents. UNICEF, UNAIDS and other global health partners launched the ALL IN to #EndAdolescentAIDS agenda to mobilize support and strengthen programme action for adolescents in general as well as targeted approaches for those at even greater risk, including members of key populations such as adolescent boys who have sex with other males and adolescents who use drugs.