Nearly 98,000 adolescent girls infected with HIV: UNICEF’s startling findings

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NEW YORK, Dec 18: A recent analysis by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has unveiled a concerning trend, revealing that girls face a significantly higher risk of contracting HIV compared to their male counterparts. The data, released as part of UNICEF’s annual snapshot on children and HIV/AIDS, discloses that nearly 98,000 adolescent girls fell victim to HIV in 2022 alone.

The report underscores the persistent challenge of gender inequality, limited access to healthcare, and a lack of educational programs that contribute to the heightened vulnerability of girls to HIV worldwide. Despite substantial progress in HIV prevention and treatment, the analysis highlights that a staggering 71 percent of new infections among adolescents aged 10 to 19 occur in girls.

In regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, home to the largest proportion of children and adolescents with HIV, the prevalence among girls and young women is three times higher than that among males.

Anurita Bains, UNICEF’s associate director of HIV/AIDS, expressed strong disapproval in a news release, stating, “It is 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 the obstacles that make HIV a threat to their health and well-being. This includes ensuring the sexual and reproductive health and rights of adolescent girls and young women are met.”

While eastern and southern Africa report the highest number of children born through age 19 with HIV, UNICEF identifies west and central Africa, East Asia and the Pacific, South Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean as hotspots for HIV infections. The report reveals that almost 1 million children and teens with HIV remain untreated, with global antiretroviral treatment facing challenges such as testing requirements and a lack of age-appropriate medication.

Despite the ongoing risks faced by girls globally, the report documents progress in the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. While progress remains slow, “remarkable” gains have been made in reducing mother-to-child transmission, and the agency notes “dramatic” improvements in HIV testing and treatment, particularly for infants. The report serves as a call to action for intensified efforts to address the persistent disparities and challenges faced by adolescent girls in the fight against HIV.

This news has been read 677 times!

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