2.7 million Nigerian youths, others living with HIV, says UNICEF

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said about 310,000 people were newly infected with HIV in 2021, bringing the total number of young people living with HIV worldwide to 2.7 million last year.

UNICEF said around 110,000 children and adolescents aged 0 and 19 died of AIDS-related cases in 2021.

This was disclosed in a statement to commemorate World AIDS Day on December 1, 2022. 

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UNICEF said progress in HIV prevention and treatment for children, adolescents, and pregnant women had nearly flatlined over the past three years.

“Around 110,000 children and adolescents (0-19 years) died from AIDs-related causes during 2021, according to the latest UNICEF global snapshot on children and HIV and AIDS,” it said. 

UNICEF added, “Meanwhile, another 310,000 were newly infected, bringing the total number of young people living with HIV to 2.7 million.”

Anurita Bains, the UN agency associate chief of HIV/AIDS, said that the equality gap between adults and children must be closed across nations for the latter to access proper tests and treatment. 

“Though children have long lagged behind adults in the AIDS response, the stagnation seen in the last three years is unprecedented, putting too many young lives at risk of sickness and death,” Ms Bains said.

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According to the UN agency, children only account for seven per cent of HIV-related diseases but suffer 21 per cent of newly infected cases and 17 per cent of AIDS-related deaths in 2021. 

The UN agency warned that ending AIDS in children and adolescents will continue to be a distant dream unless inequalities are addressed. 

“Between 2014 and 2021, the number of new infections among children and adolescents aged 0 to 14 decreased globally by roughly 27%, but it rose by 13% in Nigeria. Unless the drivers of inequities are addressed,” UNICEF said, noting that HIV cases among younger children aged 0 and 14 dropped to 52 percent from 2010 to 2021.

The agency revealed that new infections among adolescents aged 15 and 19 dropped by 40 percent.

UNICEF added that treatment for HIV cases among pregnant women increased to 81 per cent globally while it declined from 57 per cent to 34 per cent in Nigeria. 

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