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Development Policy

AIDS related deaths among adolescents on the rise

UNICEF has expressed alarm about increasing rates of HIV and aids among adolescents. The organization has called for increased funding to help get to grips with the problem.

A report released by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) on Friday said that the number of deaths among youths between the ages of 10 and 19 related to HIV/AIDS had increased by 50 percent between over the past seven years.

The 2013 Stocktaking Report on Children and AIDS said that 110,000 young people worldwide had died from AIDS in 2012 compared to compared to 71,000 in 2005.

It estimated the number of youths living with AIDS in 2012 at 2.1 million worldwide.

Of those, it said, nearly 90 percent lived in just 22 countries. All but one of which are located in sub-Saharan Africa.

In light of these findings, UNICEF has called for 5.5 billion dollars (4 billion euros) in additional funding to tackle the problem.

Suffering can be halved

"If high-impact interventions are scaled up using an integrated approach, we can halve the number of new infections among adolescents by 2020," the executive director of UNICEF, Anthony Lake, said.

"It's a matter of reaching the most vulnerable adolescents with effective programs - urgently."

Among the "high impact interventions" named are the use of condoms and anti-retroviral treatment.

Mother-to-infant infection declines

Meanwhile, on the positive side, the UNICEF report found that the number of infants who had had AID transmitted to them by their mothers was on the decrease. According to the UN agency, the number of infants with AIDS stood at 540,000 worldwide in 2005, but dropped to 260,000 in 2012.

The report attributed the reduction to prevention programs for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers, including an anti-retroviral treatment known as Option B+.

This involves mothers taking a daily pill to prevent the virus being transmitted to their babies.

'Successes'

Lake said the international community should take such successes as an impetus to do more to combat AIDS/HIV.

"The world now has the experience and the tools to achieve an AID-free generation," he said.

"Children should be the first to benefit from our successes in defeating HIV, and the last to suffer when we fall short."

pfd/ipj (AP, dpa)