AIDS Is Killing African Adolescents, New UN Report Shows

Did you know AIDs is the primary cause of death for adolescents in Africa? Four years ago, adolescents (aged 10-19 years) were left behind in the global HIV response. Programmes in Eastern and Southern Africa typically targeted infants, young children or adults. But this has changed with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) launch of the All In, in Eastern and Southern Africa: Catalysing the HIV response for adolescents report.

The report was launched at the 22nd International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam this week. Using a qualitative approach, it shows the progress made on adolescent HIV programming in the Eastern and Southern African Region (ESAR) over the past few years. The Daily Vox rounds up some key statistics about adolescents living with HIV in ESAR.

Data indicates females are significantly more likely to contract HIV than males from the age of 15. It also shows an increase in the number of AIDS-related deaths among adolescents. With 4 400 deaths in 2016, this is a 76% increase since 2010.

Alongside India, the United Republic of Tanzania, Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya is one of five countries home to almost half of all adolescents worldwide living with HIV. Adolescents make up 22.4% of the total Kenyan population of 44 million. Of about 1.5 million Kenyans living with HIV in 2015, 133 000 of those were adolescents. Almost a quarter of all new infections were among adolescents, where 62% of infections occurred in six of Kenya’s 47 counties. Only half of adolescents and young people aged 15 – 24 years had been tested for HIV test within the last 12 months. Despite this, adolescent HIV-related deaths since 2010 declined by 14% in Kisumu and 40% in Nairobi.

Results indicated that those between the ages of 15-24 accounted for more than one out of every four new HIV infections. Additionally, 8% of adolescents get married before age 18 and adolescent pregnancy rates were increasing.

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Adolescents make up almost a quarter of Botswana’s population, but have been underserved by the HIV response. HIV prevalence has increased alarmingly up to threefold between 2004 and 2013 among adolescents and young people aged 10 to 24 years. An estimated 17 000 adolescents were living with HIV by 2016 and an additional 1 400 were newly infected.

By 2016, Namibia had an estimated 1 300 new HIV infections among adolescents. Out of the 534 609 adolescents in Namibia, 13 000 are living with HIV. HIV prevalence is equal among adolescent females and males in the 10-14 age group. However, disparity between the two increases with age. At 67%, the rate for females aged 20 – 24 is twice as high as for their male peers at 33%. Just 28.5% of females and 13.9% of males aged 15 – 19 were tested for HIV during the last 12 months.

While significant progress has been made to treat those who test positive, adolescents and young people lack universal access to HIV treatment. Treatment among adolescents aged 15-19 years is at 61% among females and 76% among males.

Featured image via Unicef Africa on Twitter