Thursday
13 June | 2024

Lahore, Pakistan

UN officials confirm 2.6 million young boys, girls living with lethal HIV, AIDS

UNICEF Associate Director of HIV/AIDS Anurita Bains points out adolescent girls, who should be planning their futures, continue to bear the heaviest burden of HIV infection

Nearly 98,000 adolescent girls aged 10-19 were infected with HIV in 2022 – or 1,900 new infections every week, according to UNICEF’s latest Global Snapshot on Children with HIV and AIDS.

While total infections among girls aged 10-19 have almost halved since 2010 from 190,000 to 98,000 girls were still more than twice as likely to contract HIV last year, than boys. Globally, there were 270,000 new HIV infections among all children and adolescents aged 0-19 in 2022, bringing the total number of young people living with HIV to 2.6 million.

UNICEF Associate Director of HIV/AIDS Anurita Bains said that it was unacceptable that adolescent girls, who should be planning their futures, continue to bear the heaviest burden of HIV infection. “We – the UN, communities, governments and organizations – must eradicate obstacles that make HIV a threat to their health and well-being.”

Global Snapshot highlights how young adolescents face inequities when it comes to access to treatment, compared to adults

In sub-Saharan Africa, HIV prevalence among adolescent girls and young women, aged 10-24 years, is persistently over three times higher than among their male counterparts. The latest data shows that Eastern and Southern Africa continues to carry the overwhelming burden of HIV infection among the 0-19 age group, followed by West and Central Africa; East Asia and the Pacific; Latin America and the Caribbean and South Asia.

The Global Snapshot highlighted how children and young adolescents face considerable inequities when it comes to access to treatment, compared to adults. Globally, nearly one million people aged 0-19 living with HIV are not receiving treatment, and more than half of this group – about 60 per cent – are in Eastern and Southern Africa.

Cumbersome diagnostic processes for children; specific testing requirements for infants that are not always available in middle- and lower-income countries; and lack of age-appropriate antiretroviral medication for younger age groups are among the reasons that just 57 per cent of children aged 0–14 years are receiving antiretroviral treatment, compared to 77 per cent of people aged 15 and above.

Pakistan confirms to provide health security to HIV victims with comprehensive health, nutrition, and support service packages

Progress towards ending AIDS remains slow, with 99,000 children and adolescents aged 0-19 years dying globally due to AIDS-related causes in 2022, accounting for 15 per cent of all AIDS-related deaths, even though this age group comprises just 7 per cent of people living with HIV.

In a message in connection with the World AIDS Day, Pakistan’s President Dr Arif Alvi urged all stakeholders, including media, influencers, and community leaders, to create awareness about the HIV/AIDs to prevent its spread. “We also need to intensify our efforts towards the prevention of HIV transmission, establishing surveillance systems, reducing the stigma attached to this disease, training health staff, and strengthening our institutional framework,” he said.

“World AIDS Day reminds that ending the HIV epidemic requires collective efforts at the community level, visionary thinking, and a resolute commitment to reach even the most marginalized populations and improve the outreach of health services,” Dr Arif Alvi said, and reaffirmed his resolve to strengthen the national HIV response, promoting innovative data-driven solutions, and eradicating stigma and discrimination associated with the disease.

“We also reaffirm our commitment to fortify our health system, and formulate and execute evidence-based policies and plans, with the goal of reducing the incidence of new infections,” he said. He said that the day reminded of the fundamental responsibility to ensure access to HIV prevention, testing, and treatment services for all. “Pakistan has been working to provide health security to all individuals impacted by HIV by introducing comprehensive health, nutrition, and support service packages as part of the social security programs,” he said.

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