Sunday August 19, 2018

Every Three Minutes a Teenage Girl is Infected by HIV – UNICEF

The solution, according to Angelique Kidjo, a UNICEF goodwill ambassador who contributed to the report, is education and economic empowerment

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School girls light candles in the shape of a ribbon during a HIV/AIDS awareness campaign ahead of World Aids Day, in Ahmedabad, India, Nov. 30, 2016.
School girls light candles in the shape of a ribbon during a HIV/AIDS awareness campaign ahead of World Aids Day, in Ahmedabad, India, Nov. 30, 2016. (VOA)
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One girl between the ages of 15 and 19 is infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, every three minutes of every day, a United Nations report found.

The report, released Wednesday at the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam, said teenage girls are bearing the brunt of the AIDS epidemic, largely due to gender inequality.

Henrietta Fore, head of the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF), called it a “crisis of health.”

“In most countries, women and girls lack access to information, to services, or even just power to say no to unsafe sex,” she said. “HIV thrives among the most vulnerable and marginalized, leaving teenage girls at the center of the crisis.”

The report said while there was significant progress in the battle against AIDS in other age groups, it is notably lacking among adolescents.

While AIDS-related deaths among all other age groups have been falling since 2010, those among children aged 15 to 19 have seen no reduction.

HIV Aids
The report said while there was significant progress in the battle against AIDS in other age groups, it is notably lacking among adolescents. Flickr

In 2017, 1.2 million 15- to 19-year-olds were living with HIV, three in five of them were girls, according to UNICEF.

Actress and activist Charlize Theron addressed the issue in her speech at the conference.

The AIDS epidemic is “not just about sex or sexuality,” she said. It is also about “the second-class status of women and girls worldwide.”

Also Read: HIV Drug Is Not Linked to Depression: Study

The solution, according to Angelique Kidjo, a UNICEF goodwill ambassador who contributed to the report, is education and economic empowerment.

“We need to make girls and women secure enough economically that they don’t have to turn to sex work,” she said. “We need to make sure they have the right information about how HIV is transmitted and how to protect themselves.” (VOA)

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Computer Simulations can Predict HIV Spread

The researchers also plan to develop public health computational tools to help the agencies track the disease and allocate resources for targeted prevention campaigns

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HIV Aids
Computer simulations can predict the spread of HIV: Study. Flickr

Researchers have found that computer simulations can accurately predict the transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) across populations, aiding in preventing the disease.

The study, published in the journal Nature Microbiology, found that the simulations were consistent with actual DNA data obtained from a global public HIV database.

“We looked for special genetic patterns that we had seen in the simulations, and we can confirm that these patterns also hold for real data covering the entire epidemic,” said lead author Thomas Leitner from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US.

HIV is particularly interesting to study in this manner as the virus mutates rapidly and constantly within each infected individual, the researcher said.

The changing “genetic signatures” of its code provide a path that can be followed in determining the origin and time frame of an infection, the study found.

HIV
For the study, the researchers used phylogenetic methods, examining evolutionary relationships in the virus’s genetic code to evaluate how HIV is transmitted. Pixabay

The rapid mutational capability of the virus is useful for the epidemiological sleuthing, but is also one of the features that makes it so difficult to tackle with a vaccine.

For the study, the researchers used phylogenetic methods, examining evolutionary relationships in the virus’s genetic code to evaluate how HIV is transmitted.

The research team found that certain phylogenetic “family tree” patterns correlated to the DNA data from 955 pairs of people, in which the transmitter and recipient of the virus were known.

Also Read: Every Three Minutes a Teenage Girl is Infected by HIV — UNICEF

“These HIV transmissions had known linkage based on epidemiological information such as partner studies, mother-to-child transmission, pairs identified by contact tracing, and criminal cases,” the researchers said.

The researchers also plan to develop public health computational tools to help the agencies track the disease and allocate resources for targeted prevention campaigns. (IANS)