NEW YORK: A UNICEF report on Friday revealed that teenagers particularly girls are bearing the burden of global AIDS with 63 adolescents becoming infected with HIV every day.
UNIFCE Global Snapshot on Children with HIV and AIDS report released on World AIDS Day said that a total of 98,000 adolescent girls aged 10-19 have been tested HIV positive in in 2022, despite advancements.
While infections among girls aged 10-19 have nearly halved since 2010, dropping from 190,000, they still face a higher risk of contracting HIV compared to boys. In 2022, there were 270,000 new HIV infections globally among children and adolescents aged 0-19, bringing the total number of young people living with HIV to 2.6 million.
Expressing concern, Anurita Bains, UNICEF Associate Director of HIV/AIDS, stated, “It is unacceptable that adolescent girls, who should be planning their futures, continue to bear the heaviest burden of HIV infection.” Bains called for collective efforts to eliminate obstacles threatening the health and well-being of young girls.
In sub-Saharan Africa, HIV prevalence among adolescent girls and young women (aged 10-24 years) remains over three times higher than among their male counterparts. The burden of HIV infection is most significant in Eastern and Southern Africa, followed by West and Central Africa, East Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and South Asia.
The Global Snapshot highlights significant inequities in access to treatment for children and young adolescents compared to adults. Almost one million people aged 0-19 living with HIV globally are not receiving treatment, with 60 percent of this group located in Eastern and Southern Africa.
Challenges such as cumbersome diagnostic processes for children, specific testing requirements for infants not consistently available in lower-income countries, and a lack of age-appropriate antiretroviral medication contribute to lower treatment rates for children aged 0–14 years (57 percent) compared to those aged 15 and above (77 percent).
Despite progress, the report notes slow advancements in ending AIDS, with 99,000 children and adolescents aged 0-19 globally succumbing to AIDS-related causes in 2022, accounting for 15 percent of all AIDS-related deaths, even though this age group comprises only 7 percent of people living with HIV.