Scale up efforts to prevent HIV infections in youth: UNICEF

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Young people play an "HIV knowledge" board game at an event to promote sexual and reproductive health among adolescents supported by the China Center for Health Education and UNICEF China. Photo: UNICEF/Xia Yong

New HIV infections among adolescents could reach 400,000 a year by 2030 if progress stalls in reaching this segment of the population, according to a new report from the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

Nearly two million people worldwide aged 10 -19 were living with HIV in 2015, with sub-Saharan Africa being the most impacted region.

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS, which UNICEF said remains a leading cause of death among this age group.

Dianne Penn reports.

Last year, 250,000 adolescents were infected with HIV, according to UNICEF data.

The agency warned that the number could jump to 400,000 annually over the next 15 years; a staggering 60 per cent increase.

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said that every two minutes another adolescent, most likely a girl, will be infected with the virus.

"If we want to end AIDS, we need to recapture the urgency this issue deserves, and redouble our efforts to reach every child and every adolescent," he stated.

The UNICEF report outlines strategies to prevent new infections among young people and to treat those living with HIV.

Measures include strengthening data collection and analysis to inform decision-making as well as prioritizing efforts to address forced sex and sexual exploitation among adolescent girls.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 57"

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