SUNDAY, JUNE 24, 2018

Adolescent AIDS epidemic to be fought by All In initiative

The battle against AIDS has forced UNAIDS, UNICEF and partners to launch All In, a new platform for action to achieve positive results for adolescents by encouraging strategic changes in policy and engaging more young people in the effort.

Deaths are declining in all age groups, except among 10- to 19-year-olds. Adolescent girls, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, are most affected. In 2013, more than 860 girls became infected with HIV every week, compared to 170 boys.

“HIV is the leading cause of death among adolescents in Africa, and young women are most affected,” UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe said. “This is a moral injustice. I am calling on young people to lead the All In movement, alongside the United Nations, public and private partners, and countries themselves, to end the adolescent AIDS epidemic.”

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake is also on board.

“Children and young people should be the first to benefit from the progress we have made in ending the epidemic, not the last,” Lake said. “We need to reach the adolescents we are missing and engage all young people in the effort to end adolescent AIDS. In fact, we cannot achieve the goal of an AIDS-free generation without them.”

All In hones in on four areas: engaging, mobilizing and empowering adolescents as leaders and actors of social change, improving data collection to better inform programming, encouraging innovative approaches to reach adolescents with essential HIV services adapted to their needs and placing adolescent HIV firmly on political agendas to spur concrete action and mobilize resources.

Deborah Birx, United States Global AIDS coordinator and United States special representative for Global Health Diplomacy, said the youth of today are the leaders of the future, even in Africa.

“The future of sub-Saharan Africa rests in the health and well-being of the youth,” Birx said. “We’re committed to working with partner countries and others to close the health gap that leaves adolescent girls and young women particularly vulnerable to HIV infection.”

Over the next five years, UNAIDS has set goals to be achieved by 2020 for adolescents that include reducing new HIV infections by at least 75 percent, reducing AIDS-related deaths by 65 percent and achieving zero discrimination. If all that happens, adolescent AIDS could be virtually eliminated by 2030.

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