WHO: adolescents living with HIV not receiving the care and support they need

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AIDS ribbonMore than two million adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 years living with HIV are not receiving the care and support that they need to stay in good health and prevent transmission, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO says failure to support effective and acceptable HIV services for adolescents has resulted in a 50% increase in reported AIDS-related deaths in this group compared with the 30% decline seen in the general population from 2005 to 2012.

Ahead of the World AIDS day to be marked on December 1, WHO has issued new guidelines for testing and counselling and care for adolescents living with HIV, the first to address the specific needs of adolescents both for those living with HIV, as well as those who are at risk of infection.

Amongst other recommendations, WHO is urging governments to review their laws to make it easier for adolescents to obtain HIV testing without needing consent from their parents.

Dr Gottfried Hirnschall, is the Director of the WHO HIV/AIDS Department.

"There is an ongoing high level of infection especially among adolescents from what we call key populations. These are adolescent girls, specifically in Sub-Saharan Africa, young men who have sex with men. We are seeing alarming epidemics in many Asian cities, Bangladesh, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta. Young transgender women are specifically vulnerable, young people who inject drugs. For example, in eastern Europe, we know that over 30 per cent of young drug users are HIV positive and adolescents that are subject to sexual coercion and abuse. We have to do better for adolescents. We have to provide better services, better access for adolescents and we also have to make sure that the services that exist for adults are somewhat adopted and adapted to the needs of young people- that includes access to better testing and treatment etc."

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) says about one out of every seven new HIV infections occurs among adolescents adding that unless barriers to prevention and treatment are removed, the dream of an AIDS-free generation will never be realized.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva.

Duration:  2’25″

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