Preventing HIV in Adolescents: Challenges and Solutions

2023-12-01 00:01:13

Children and adolescents face significant gaps in screening and access to treatment.

New York/Paris, December 1, 2023 – Nearly 98,000 adolescent girls aged 10 to 19 were infected with HIV in 2022 – or 1,900 new infections every week – according to the latest UNICEF global overview of children living with HIV and AIDSpublished ahead of World AIDS Day.

Girls are the first victims of the HIV epidemic

While the total number of infections among girls aged 10 to 19 has almost halved since 2010 – from 190,000 to 98,000 – in 2022, girls still remain more than twice as likely to contract HIV as boys. At the World level, 270,000 new cases of HIV infection were recorded among children and adolescents aged 0 to 19 years in 2022, bringing the total number of young people living with HIV to 2.6 million.

« It is unacceptable that adolescent girls, who should be focusing on their future, continue to bear the brunt of HIV infection “, said Anurita Bains, UNICEF deputy director in charge of the fight against HIV/AIDS. « We – the United Nations, communities, governments and organizations – must remove the barriers that make HIV a threat to their health and well-being. In particular, it is necessary to ensure that the sexual and reproductive health and rights of adolescent girls and young women are respected. ».

Girls continue to be the main victims of the HIV epidemic, particularly due to gender inequalitieswhich often prevent them from negotiating safe sex; of povertywhich results in the distancing of communities from health centers and; lack of access to HIV prevention and sexual and reproductive health programs.

An unequal geography of HIV infections

In sub-Saharan Africa, HIV prevalence among adolescent girls and young women aged 10 to 24 is still three times higher than among their male counterparts.

The most recent data show that East and Southern Africa still constitute the main focus of HIV infection in the 0-19 age group in 2022followed by West and Central Africa, East Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and South Asia.

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Serious inequalities in access to prevention and care

The Global Overview further highlights that children and young adolescents face considerable inequalities in access to treatment, compared to adults. Globally, nearly a million people aged 0 to 19 living with HIV are not receiving treatment, and more than half of this group – around 60% – are in East Africa and Africa. Southern Africa.

Burdensome diagnostic processes for children, specific testing requirements for infants that are not always available in middle- and low-income countries, and lack of age-appropriate antiretroviral drugs for age groups younger ages are all reasons why only 57% of children aged 0-14 receive antiretroviral treatment, compared to 77% of people aged 15 and over.

Progress towards the eradication of AIDS remains slow: in 2022, on a global scale, 99,000 children and adolescents aged 0 to 19 have lost their lives due to AIDS-related complications, representing 15% of all AIDS-related deaths, while this age group represents only 7%. people living with HIV.

Notes to editors :

Table of population figures for HIV-positive children and adolescents in regions where HIV is most prevalent:

View the 2023 Global Overview ICI.

Download multimedia content ICI.

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