Adolescent HIV infections projected to rise if progress stalls – UNICEF

A new report released by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said new HIV infections among adolescents are projected to rise from 250,000 in 2015 to nearly 400,000 annually by 2030.

A statement signed by Ruth Pappoe, Communications Consultant at the External Relations and Public Advocacy Unit of UNICEF Ghana and copied to the Ghana News Agency, said the Human Immune Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) elimination in Ghana is progressing.

It said there are concerns in terms of preventing mother to child transmission of HIV, reaching children and adolescents living with HIV and providing them with the needed treatment and support.

The statement said “the Government of Ghana and the Ghana AIDS Commission estimated the number of adults and children living with HIV as of 2015 at 275,000 and prevalence at 2 per cent.”

Girmay Haile, Country Director at UNAIDS-Ghana, said “the toll of HIV and AIDS continues to be harsh despite the progress and it’s crucial for Ghana to stay focused and not to let the growing population disengage in the fight against the virus.”

“Children are still dying of AIDS-related causes, said Susan Namondo Ngongi, UNICEF-Ghana Country Representative.

“They face the highest risk of AIDS-related deaths compared to all other age groups. The AIDS-response must focus on solutions for this extremely vulnerable population.

“Preventing new infections, but also starting treatment early are the best ways to end AIDS among the youngest children.”

The report from 7th Stocktaking Report on Children and AIDS: For Every Child: End AIDS said AIDS remains a leading cause of death among adolescents, claiming the lives of 41,000 adolescents aged 10-19 in 2015.

The report proposed strategies for accelerating progress in preventing HIV among adolescents and treating those who are already infected which include ‘investing in innovation of locally grown solutions, strengthening data collection’

It also proposed “ending gender discrimination including gender-based violence and countering stigma as well as prioritising efforts to address adolescents’ vulnerabilities by providing combination prevention efforts including pre-exposure prophylaxis, cash transfers and comprehensive sexuality education.”
UNICEF said despite progress being made in averting new infections and reducing deaths, funding for the AIDS response has declined since 2014. GNA

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