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130,000 teenagers have died from AIDS in 2018 – UNICEF

 

….Says 20 adolescent girls get HIV every hour

Chika Otuchikere

A report by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has shown that no fewer than 130,000 children below the age of 19 have died from AIDS since the beginning of 2018.

According to the report, 30 teenagers and adolescents, especially girls, are becoming infected with HIV every hour, global.

UNICEF’s report which was presented on Wednesday at an AIDS conference in Amsterdam, said that 130,000 children aged 19 and under died from AIDS in 2018, while 430,000 – almost 50 an hour – were newly infected.

According to the agency, out of 30 new infections each hour among 15 to 19 year-olds in 2017, around 20 or two-thirds, were in girls.

UNICEF which described the development as a “crisis of health as well as a crisis of agency”, said while there has been substantial progress in the fight against AIDS in the last two decades, the failure to prevent so many new infections among children and teenagers is slowing this down.

The agency linked the epidemic’s spread among adolescent girls as fueled by early sex, including with older men, forced sex, powerlessness in negotiating around sex, poverty and lack of access to confidential counselling and testing services.

 

[penci_blockquote style=”style-2″ align=”none” author=””]UNICEF goodwill ambassador, Angelique Kidjo, who contributed to the report, noted that economic empowerment and education were crucial. Kidjo said; “We need to make girls and women secure enough economically that they don’t have to turn to sex work. “We need to make sure they have the right information about how HIV is transmitted and how to protect themselves.”[/penci_blockquote]

UNICEF’s executive director, Henrietta Fore said, “In most countries, women and girls lack access to information, to services, or even just the power to say no to unsafe sex.

“HIV thrives among the most vulnerable and marginalized, leaving teenage girls at the centre of the crisis.”

UNICEF disclosed that adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 account for almost two thirds of the three million under-19 year-olds living with HIV. And while AIDS-related deaths among all other age groups have been falling since 2010, those among older adolescents aged 15 to 19 have seen no reduction.

 

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UNICEF goodwill ambassador, Angelique Kidjo, who contributed to the report, noted that economic empowerment and education were crucial.

Kidjo said; “We need to make girls and women secure enough economically that they don’t have to turn to sex work.

“We need to make sure they have the right information about how HIV is transmitted and how to protect themselves.”

Meanwhile, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has said that the fight against the AIDS epidemic, in which 37 million people worldwide are infected with the incurable HIV virus, is at a “precarious point”, with deaths falling, treatment rates rising, but rates of new HIV infections stubbornly high.

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