More than 850,000 infants saved from HIV since 2005, but alarming trends seen among adolescentsListen /
Great progress has been made to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, with more than 850,000 new childhood infections averted between 2005 and 2012 in low- and middle-income countries, according to a new report out on Friday by the UN children's agency (UNICEF).
However, the new 2013 Stocktaking Report on Children and AIDS raises the alarm on adolescents, citing the need for increased global and national efforts to address HIV and AIDS among this vulnerable age group.
AIDS-related deaths amongst adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 increased by 50 per cent between 2005 and 2012, rising from 71,000 to 110,000, in stark contrast to progress made in preventing mother-to-child transmission. There were approximately 2.1 million adolescents living with HIV in 2012.
The report says that with additional funding and increased investment in innovation, many of the challenges could be overcome.
A new analysis featured in the report shows that by increasing investment in high-impact interventions to about US$5.5 billion by 2014, 2 million adolescents, particularly girls, could avoid becoming infected by 2020. Investments in 2010 were US$3.8 billion.
UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake says "If high-impact interventions are scaled up using an integrated approach, we can halve the number of new infections among adolescents by 2020," adding, "It's a matter of reaching the most vulnerable adolescents with effective programmes – urgently."
High-impact interventions include condoms, antiretroviral treatment, prevention of mother-to-child transmission, voluntary medical male circumcision, communications for behaviour change, and targeted approaches for at-risk and marginalized populations.
According to the report, the challenge now is to apply the knowledge that already exists, continue to focus on the most vulnerable and marginalized children and adolescents, and pursue new opportunities and innovations—while using finite resources as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Donn Bobb, United Nations.