UN marks World AIDS Day with both hope, concern for African youth

By AT editor - 1 December 2017 at 7:05 pm
UN marks World AIDS Day with both hope, concern for African youth

On World AIDS Day the United Nations says there’s been much progress to celebrate, but success in meeting global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that target the end of AIDS by 2030 will need more effort – and there remains much at stake for Africa’s young populations.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that in 2016, 120,000 children under age 14 died of AIDS-related causes while hourly, 18 were newly infected. The 2017 UNICEF Statistical Update on Children and AIDS, launched Friday, projects that if current trends persist, there will be 3.5 million new adolescent HIV infections by 2030.

In 2016, 91 per cent of adolescents who died from AIDS-related causes lived in sub-Saharan Africa, with more girls living with HIV infection than boys of the same age, UNICEF said.

“The AIDS epidemic is not over; it remains a threat to the lives of children and young people and more can and should be done to prevent it,” said Dr. Chewe Luo, Chief of HIV for UNICEF.

Michel Sidibé, executive director at UNAIDS, stressed that the goal isn’t just to end HIV/AIDS but to broaden the universal health care access in which it exists. The right to health “is interrelated with a range of other rights, including the rights to sanitation, food, decent housing, healthy working conditions and a clean environment,” he said.

Audrey Azoulay, the new Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), was among those joining Sidibé in the appeal to do more. She stressed the linkage between health and education while emphasizing the need for inclusion of women and girls, who bear a disproportionate burden of HIV and AIDS, in wider educational opportunity.

Image: UNICEF/G. Pirozzi

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