ISLAMABAD: Over two million adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 years are living with HIV worldwide, and many do not receive the care and support that they need to stay in good health and prevent transmission.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), millions more adolescents are at risk of infection and the failure to support effective and acceptable HIV services for adolescents has resulted in a 50% increase in reported AIDS-related deaths in this group compared with the 30% decline seen in the general population from 2005 to 2012.
New WHO recommendations are the first to address the specific needs of adolescents, both for those living with HIV and those who are at risk of infection.
HIV/AIDS remains one of the world’s most significant public health challenges, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.
As a result of recent advances in access to antiretroviral therapy (ART), HIV-positive people now live longer and healthier lives. In addition, it has been confirmed that ART prevents onward transmission of HIV.
At the end of 2012, close to 10 million people were receiving ART in low- and middle-income countries. However, almost 19 million other people who are eligible for ART under new 2013 guidelines do not have access to antiretroviral drugs.
But progress has been made. In 2012, 62% of pregnant women living with HIV received the most effective drug regimens (as recommended by WHO) to prevent mother-to-child transmission of the virus.
WHO’s guidelines provide a support to countries in formulating and implementing policies and programmes to improve and scale up HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services for all people in need.