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Teens at Greatest Risk of New HIV Infections, Says New UNICEF and UNAIDS Report
November 30, 2013

A new report released by UNICEF and UNAIDS ahead of World AIDS Day, today, shows great progress has been made to prevent the transmission of HIV from an infected mother to her unborn child, with more than 850,000 new childhood infections averted between 2005 and 2012 in low- and middle-income countries.

However, despite the good news, the 2013 Stocktaking Report on Children and AIDS raises the alarm on growing infection rates among adolescents, citing the need for increased global and national efforts to address HIV and AIDS among this age group.

AIDS-related deaths among teens aged 10 to 19 increased by 50 per cent between 2005 and 2012; rising from 71,000 to 110,000. About 2.1 million adolescents are known to be living with HIV in 2012.

The report makes a case for increased investment in high-impact interventions to about $6 billion by 2014 - up from $4.2 billion in 2010 - to reduce the risk of HIV infection for 2 million adolescents, in particular young women, by 2020.

“It’s a matter of reaching the most vulnerable adolescents with effective programs – urgently,” UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake said.

The UNICEF and UNAIDS report also pointed to increased treatment for children already living with HIV.

About 210,000 children died from AIDS-related illnesses last year, with only 34 per cent of children living with HIV in low- and middle-income countries receiving the treatment they needed compared to 64 per cent of adults.

Dr Lake said new tools and ways of reaching children and young people had made testing and treatment more accessible, effective and efficient, citing the example of mobile phone use in Zambia and Malawi to quickly deliver HIV test results.

“The world now has the experience and the tools to achieve an AIDS-free generation.

Children should be the first to benefit from our successes in defeating HIV, and the last to suffer when we fall short,” Dr Lake said.

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