Aids still the big­gest threat to African youth

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

AIDS is the num­ber one cause of death among teenagers in Africa, the UN Chil­dren’s Fund (Unicef) said yes­ter­day.

Among HIV-af­fected pop­u­la­tions, ado­les­cents are the only group for which the mor­tal­ity fig­ures are not de­creas­ing, the or­gan­i­sa­tion said in a state­ment about its re­port ti­tled “Sta­tis­ti­cal Up­date on Chil­dren, Adoles- cents and Aids”.

“It is crit­i­cal that young peo­ple who are HIV-pos­i­tive have ac­cess to treat­ment, care and sup­port,” Craig McClure, the head of Unicef ’s global HIV/Aids pro­grammes, said in a state­ment.

“At the same time, those who are HIV-neg­a­tive must have ac­cess to the knowl­edge and means to help them to stay that way.”

Ac­cord­ing to the UN agency, about half of those liv­ing with HIV are in six coun­tries – South Africa, Nige­ria, Kenya, In­dia, Mozam­bique and Tan­za­nia.

Aids is the sec­ond lead­ing cause of death among ado­les­cents glob­ally. Most ado­les­cents who die

Aids- re­lated ill­nesses

of ac­quired HIV when they were in­fants, 10 to 15 years ago, and then sur­vived into their teenage years, some­times with­out know­ing their HIV sta­tus, Unicef said.

In sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa, the re­gion with the high­est preva­lence of the virus, girls are “vastly more af­fected”, ac­count­ing for seven in 10 new in­fec­tions among 15 to 19 year olds, the agency said.

Among ado­les­cents in that age group in the re­gion, just more than one in 10 are tested for HIV.

Since 2000, nearly 1.3 mil­lion new in­fec­tions among chil­dren have been averted, largely due to ad­vances in the preven­tion of mother-to-child trans­mis­sion of HIV, Unicef said. – ANA-dpa

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