New HIV infections among adolescents projected to rise by nearly 60 per cent by 2030 if progress stalls - UNICEF

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

TORONTO/NEW YORK/JOHANNESBURG, Dec. 1, 2016 /CNW/ - 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.

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.

"AIDS may not be the death sentence it was just a decade ago, but it's certainly still a threat to millions of adolescents around the world, and will pose a growing threat if we don't act now," says David Morley, UNICEF Canada President and CEO. "Despite our progress, we can't become complacent. We must maintain the momentum, commitment and funding to protect, diagnose and treat the world's children and youth and end the AIDS epidemic once and for all."

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 a combination of prevention efforts including pre-exposure prophylaxis, cash transfers and comprehensive sexuality education.

Every two minutes an adolescent is infected with HIV, girls particularly vulnerable

"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."

Globally, there were nearly two 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.

Children often diagnosed and treated too late

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.

Funding for AIDS response declined since 2014

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

In September, Canada hosted the two-day Global Fund Fifth Replenishment Conference to mobilize, engage and renew world leaders' commitment towards the Sustainable Development Goal targets of ending HIV, TB and malaria by 2030. The conference raised $12.9 billion of which Canada contributed $804 million to continue the significant progress that has been made towards ending these three fatal diseases within our generation.

"Canada has demonstrated leadership through its recent generous support to the Global Fund," says Morley. "We call on Canada to continue leading last mile support on HIV and AIDS and global health challenges, particularly for the most vulnerable children and youth, especially girls."

Notes to editors:

Download multimedia content at: http://weshare.unicef.org/Package/2AMZIF5U8W2  

Interviews are available

More information and the report are available at: www.childrenandaids.org

About UNICEF
UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.

SOURCE UNICEF Canada

Image with caption: "Bertha Andrews Ndikwege lives in a small one-roomed house in Tanzania with her husband and two children. Bertha is living with HIV, but she was able to prevent transmission of HIV to her baby thanks to the support of UNICEF and its partners. ©UNICEF/UNI197919/Schermbrucker (CNW Group/UNICEF Canada)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20161201_C1944_PHOTO_EN_829311.jpg

For further information: To arrange interviews or for more information please contact: Stefanie Carmichael, UNICEF Canada, 416-482-6552 ext. 8866, 437-345-6324 (mobile), scarmichael@unicef.ca

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