About 50 girls under 19 infected with HIV every hour, says Unicef


In its latest report, "Miles to Go: Closing Gaps, Breaking Barriers, Righting Injustices", the United Nations agency shows that 47 per cent of new HIV infections globally are among key populations, including sex workers, people who inject drugs, and gay men and other men who have sex with men.

Adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 account for nearly two thirds of the 3 million under-19 year-olds living with HIV.

UNICEF's report, presented on Wednesday at an AIDS conference in Amsterdam, said that 130,000 children aged 19 and under died from AIDS previous year, while 430,000 - nearly 50 an hour - were newly infected.

Girls and young women made up two-thirds of 15- to 19-year-olds infected with HIV in 2017, according to data unveiled at the 22nd International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam.

Aleya Khalifa of the UNICEF who presented the data, noted that reducing the HIV burden among young people in sub-Saharan Africa will require better access to HIV prevention, sexual and reproductive health, and targeted testing services.

While AIDS-related deaths have decreased since 2010 in all other age groups, among older adolescents aged 15 to 19 they have remained stubbornly constant.

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"In most countries, women and girls lack access to information, to services, or even just power to say no to unsafe sex", she said.

The British royal has teamed up with one of his mother's close friends, Sir Elton John to launch the MenStar coalition - a new $1.2bn global organisation aimed at helping men break the HIV cycle through testing & treatment with the ultimate goal of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. "HIV thrives among the most vulnerable and marginalized, leaving teenage girls at the centre of the crisis".

Actress and activist Charlize Theron raised the issue in an address to conference delegates on Tuesday.

It sheds a light on the global AIDS crisis, and how girls are bearing the brunt of the epidemic. An alarming number of teenage girls are also contracting HIV via forced sex, or being powerless when it comes to negotiating around sex.

The expert group of scientists, convened by UNAIDS, the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPAC) and the International AIDS Society, warn that an overly broad and inappropriate application of criminal law against people living with HIV remains a serious concern across the globe. Authored by 20 of the world's leading scientists, and based on robust evidence, the statement counsels caution when prosecuting people for HIV transmission, exposure and non-disclosure, and encourages governments, law enforcement officers, and those working in the judicial system to note carefully advances in HIV science so as to ensure that current knowledge in this field informs the application of the law.