Sunday August 18, 2019

AIDS is the second leading cause of death among adolescents globally

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New York: The number of adolescent deaths from AIDS has tripled over the last 15 years, most of the patients having acquired the disease when they were infants, according to new data released on Friday by Unicef.

AIDS is the number one cause of death among adolescents in Africa and the second leading cause of death among adolescents globally. Among HIV-affected populations, adolescents are the only group for which the mortality figures are not decreasing, according to Unicef, as reported by a news agency.

In sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the highest prevalence, girls are vastly more affected, accounting for 7 in 10 new infections among 15-19-year-olds. However, among adolescents in that age group in the region, just over 1 in 10 are tested for HIV, it said.

“It is critical that young people who are HIV-positive have access to treatment, care and support,” said Craig McClure, head of Unicef’s global HIV/AIDS programmes. “At the same time, those who are HIV-negative must have access to the knowledge and means to help them stay that way.”

According to the data in Unicef’s Statistical Update on Children, Adolescents and AIDS, less than half of children under 2 months old are tested for HIV. Only 1 in 3 of the 2.6 million children under the age of 15 living with HIV is on treatment.

The new data states that most adolescents who die of AIDS-related illnesses acquired HIV when they were infants, 10 to 15 years ago when fewer pregnant women and mothers living with HIV received anti-retroviral medicines to prevent HIV transmission from mother to child.

However, since 2000, nearly 1.3 million new infections among children have been averted, largely due to advances in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

By 2014, 3 in 5 pregnant women living with HIV received anti-retroviral treatment to prevent transmission of the virus to their babies. This has translated into a 60 percent reduction in AIDS-related deaths among children under 4 years of age since 2000, according to the Unicef.

The data reveal that currently among adolescents (15-19): 26 new infections occur every hour; and about half of those living with HIV are in just six countries: South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, India, Mozambique and Tanzania.

(IANS)

(Picture credit:www.stop-homophobia.com )

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UNICEF Reports Unprecedented Number of Children in Congo Infected by Ebola Epidemic

Main activities include epidemic control, helping communities strengthen their response to the disease in at-risk areas, and delivering essential services

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FILE - A Congolese health worker administers Ebola vaccine to a child at the Himbi Health Centre in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, July 17, 2019. VOA

The United Nations’ Children’s Fund, or UNICEF, reports an unprecedented number of children in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo are being infected with Ebola and many are dying from this deadly disease.

Children account for more than 700 of the 2,671 reported cases of Ebola. UNICEF health specialist Jerome Pfaffman says more than half of the youngsters infected with this deadly disease are below the age of five.

Pfaffman, who has just completed his third tour of duty in northeast Congo, calls this number unprecedented. He says it is proportionally higher than the number of children who were infected in the 2014 West African outbreak, which affected about 28,000 people, killing more than 11,000.

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A child is vaccinated against Ebola in Beni, Congo, July 13, 2019. VOA

“When I left there were 12 new confirmed cases,” he said. “Five were alive and will have the chance to access treatment, but seven had died in the community. This is bad. Having this number of community deaths means we are not ahead of the epidemic.”

Pfaffman says people living in conflict-ridden North Kivu and Ituri provinces are facing both a public health emergency and a humanitarian crisis, making it particularly difficult to bring this complex outbreak under control.

He says building community trust is crucial for this effort. He says treating children for illnesses other than Ebola is critical. He tells VOA when a child falls ill, the mother doesn’t know whether the child has malaria, measles or Ebola.

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FILE – A woman and her children wait to receive Ebola vaccinations, in the village of Mabalako, in eastern Congo, June 17, 2019. VOA

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“You need to be able to take care of that child, whatever disease it is,” he said. “… By doing that kind of program, we will be able then both to treat that child for whatever disease he or she has. And, also identify quickly the Ebola cases, and refer them and control the outbreak.”

Pfaffman warns it will not be possible to bring this epidemic to an end without greater international support and more resources. He says UNICEF will have to more than triple its budget to respond to this complex crisis, requiring about $170 million over the next six months. Main activities include epidemic control, helping communities strengthen their response to the disease in at-risk areas, and delivering essential services. (VOA)