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30 minors become infected with the HIV virus every hour
UNICEF recently published a report on the current situation in the global AIDS epidemic. Although public interest in the disease is declining, the virus is far from defeated. According to the report, 30 teenagers are newly infected with the dangerous virus every hour. Girls affect two thirds of new infections among minors.
The UNICEF report points out the devastating consequences of the HI viruses, which are still having a massive impact. According to the report, there were 130,000 AIDS-related deaths worldwide in 2017 in the under-19 age group alone. In addition, there were 430,000 new infections among minors. The report "Women: at the Heart of the HIV response for children" can be viewed free of charge on the UNICEF website.
Minor girls are hardest hit
As the report shows, girls account for two thirds of new infections in adolescents. "In most countries, girls and women have less access to information, health services or simply not enough power to say no to unprotected sex," said UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore in a press release to the report. HIV infection would spread most among the most vulnerable people, which is why teenage girls are at the center of this crisis.
A crisis of self-determination
"This is a health crisis, but also a crisis of self-determination," said Fore. She fears that HIV and AIDS may spread again if the younger generation is not reached through prevention and aid programs. This would nullify the progress made in the past decades in the fight against sexual disease.
Overall, the number of deaths fell - but not among young people
The report shows that AIDS deaths have decreased since 2010. However, this does not count for the number of AIDS deaths among young people. There was no decline here, according to UNICEF. In the age group between 15 and 19 years alone, around 1.2 million young people would live with the infection. Around 720,000 of those affected are girls.
Poverty, ignorance, forced sex
"The epidemic among girls and young women is promoted primarily through early or forced sexual contact," report the UNICEF experts. In many places, young girls still lack the power to determine their own sexuality. In addition, there would be poverty and a lack of access to confidential advice and testing opportunities.
More independence for women
"We have to make sure that girls and women can take care of themselves economically so that they don't have to prostitute themselves," says Angelique Kidjo, singer and UNICEF ambassador. In addition, better access to medicines and offers of help must be established. Kidjo argues that, above all, better education must be provided among girls so that young women can be empowered worldwide.
With a series of initiatives in 25 countries with the highest proportion of HIV-infected adolescents, the aid organization UNICEF wants to curb the high number of new infections among minors. For example, a preventive program should prevent infected mothers from transmitting the virus to their children. With this and other measures, the number of mother-child transmissions has already decreased. According to the report, the number of newborns infected fell by a third between 2010 and 2017.
The fight is far from over
"Women are most affected by this epidemic - due to the sheer number of infected people and as primary carers for their sick relatives," concludes Henrietta Fore. Special attention must be paid to women in the fight against AIDS - they must be the focus. This struggle is far from over, the executive director said. (vb)