A new United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) report has shown that 71 percent of new HIV infections among adolescents aged 10–19 years are among girls globally.
The report noted that major gaps in basic HIV prevention and supportive sexual and reproductive health programmes for adolescent girls and young women remained long-standing gender inequalities and discrimination, marginalisation, and denial of rights, compounded by poverty and violence.
It said that due to factors like these, HIV prevalence among adolescent girls and young women in sub-Saharan Africa was still over three times higher than their male counterparts.
The report also showed that every day, 384 adolescent girls, aged 10–19 years, were infected with HIV; 356 children aged 0–14 years, were newly infected, while 271 children and adolescents from 0–19 years died from AIDS-related causes with HIV.
“Adolescents represent a growing share of people living with HIV worldwide. In 2022, about 1.7 million adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 were living with HIV worldwide. Adolescents account for about 4 percent of all people living with HIV and about 10 percent of new HIV infections.
“In 2022, half as many (47 percent) of adolescent girls and young women acquired HIV as in 2010. Even with this decline, we are not on track to meet our 2030 target to end new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women.
“The global sex distribution of new HIV infections among adolescents is driven largely by sub-Saharan Africa, which carries the overwhelming global burden of HIV. In 2022, 33 percent of older adolescents aged 15–19 years newly infected with HIV lived outside of the region.
“In the Middle East and North Africa region, the number of young people living with HIV has increased by 13 percent since 2010. In East Asia and the Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean, two-thirds of new adolescent infections, aged 10–19 years, occur in boys,” it said.
It added that stigma, discrimination, societal inequalities and violence sabotaged the efforts of adolescents and young people to protect themselves against HIV and other health threats. Young key populations are especially vulnerable.
Meanwhile, the Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), Dr. Aliyu Gambo said it is optimistic that the country is closer to achieving the 2030 target.
He said, “We are moving closer to what we had estimated. We are seeing ourselves getting closer to the bus stop that countries are expected to reach in the year 2030. So, we are very hopeful that by the year 2025, we will be able to reach that bus stop five years earlier than the year 2030.”