WHO, UNAIDS release new adolescent care standards
The Global Standards state that adolescents, considered to be individuals between the ages of 10 and 19, should be considered as a unique group and treated with respect.
“Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to certain health issues," Anthony Costello, director of Maternal, Children's and Adolescents' Health with WHO, said. "The top three causes of death among adolescents are road traffic injuries, AIDS-related illnesses and suicide."
Both the WHO and UNAIDS recommended that health care facilities make their services more accessible to adolescents by providing low-cost consultations, making age-appropriate health information and services available without an appointment, and eliminating the need for parental consent so that visits would be confidential.
"AIDS is the leading cause of death among adolescents in Africa and the second primary cause of death among adolescents globally," Dr. Mariangela Simao, director of Rights, Gender, Prevention and Community Mobilization at UNAIDS, said.
Simao said that adolescents should be given the right to information and services that will help them to protect themselves from HIV, as they are at a vulnerable period of life when the behaviors they adopt will affect their health for the rest of their lives.
“The health sector cannot stand there and tell people they are sick because of the ways they use tobacco and alcohol, and their attitudes to diet and exercise, if it does not do a better job of helping people develop healthy habits as adolescents,” Costello said.