WHO issues new recommendations for adolescents with HIV
According to the WHO, more than two million adolescents between 10 and 19 years of age are living with HIV, and many do not receive the help they need to stay in good health and prevent transmission. Between 2005 and 2012, adolescents with HIV experienced a 50 percent increase in AIDS-related deaths, despite a 30 percent decline in the general population.
"Adolescents face difficult and often confusing emotional and social pressures as they grow from children into adults," Gottfried Hirnschall, the director of the WHO's HIV/AIDS Department, said. "Adolescents need health services and support, tailored to their needs. They are less likely than adults to be tested for HIV and often need more support than adults to help them maintain care and to stick to treatment."
The WHO is recommending that governments review their laws to make it easier for adolescents to obtain testing for HIV without parental consent. The agency also suggests ways for health services to improve their quality of care and social support for adolescents. The WHO values the idea of involving the age group to create an adolescent-centered approach to the services.
"Young people need to be better equipped to manage their HIV infection and take ownership of their health care," Elizabeth Mason, the director of the WHO's Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health Department, said. "We have seen for example in Zimbabwe that, by developing adolescent friendly services, it is possible to achieve good treatment outcomes among adolescents. We urge others to be inspired by these examples."
In January, the WHO will launch a new online tool to help health workers put the new recommendations into practice.
The WHO developed the guidelines in collaboration with the U.N. Population Fund, the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the Global Network of People Living with HIV and the U.N. Children's Fund.