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.”
The HIV/AIDS elimination in Ghana is progressing but remains a concern in terms of preventing mother to child transmission of HIV, reaching children and adolescents living with HIV and provide them with the needed treatment and support. The Government of Ghana and the Ghana AIDS Commission estimated the number of adults and children living with HIV as of 2015 at 275,000 and prevalence at 2%.
“The toll of HIV and AIDS continues to be harsh despite the progress, said Girmay Haile, Country Director at UNAIDS Ghana. It’s crucial for Ghana to stay focused and not to let the growing population disengage in the fight against the virus.”
“Children are still dying of AIDS-related causes, commented Susan Namondo Ngongi, UNICEF Ghana Country Representative. They face the highest risk of AIDS-related death compared to all other age groups. The AIDS-response must focus on solutions for this extremely vulnerable population. Preventing new infections, but also starting treatment early are the best ways to end AIDS among the youngest children.”
Worldwide, 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.
- Prioritising 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.
Distributed by APO on behalf of UNICEF Ghana.