Lifestyle & Belief

AIDS-related deaths among adolescents increased dramatically, UNICEF says


A new report by UNICEF has found that adolescent AIDS rates are up alarmingly.


Annie Mpalume

The United Nations Children's Fund on Friday said AIDS-related deaths among adolescents has risen sharply in the last seven years.

Deaths between the ages of 10 and 19 increased by 50 percent between 2005 and 2012, despite progress being made in other areas in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

UNICEF, in its 2013 Stocktaking Report on Children and AIDS, said that 110,000 adolescents died of AIDS in 2012, compared to 71,000 in 2005.

There were 2.1 million adolescents living with HIV, which causes AIDS, in 2012 and half of them lived in just six countries: South Africa, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, India and Zimbabwe.

The majority of cases are in young women.

This is in contrast to progress made in mother-to-child transmission of HIV, which has been sharply reduced in recent years.

It is estimated that about 850,000 cases were prevented in low and middle-income countries.

The report claims that more investment into interventions, such as circumcision campaigns, antiretroviral treatment and condom distribution, could lead to a generation of children living without HIV.

The report says that by increasing investment in such interventions to about $5.5 billion by 2014, two million adolescents could be prevented from becoming infected by 2020.

Investments in high-impact interventions in 2010 were $3.8 billion.

“If high-impact interventions are scaled up using an integrated approach, we can halve the number of new infections among adolescents by 2020,” said UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake.

“It’s a matter of reaching the most vulnerable adolescents with effective programs – urgently."

The report was released just days before Sunday's World AIDS Day.