UNAIDS Reports 18.2 Million Receiving Antiretroviral Treatment But HIV Still Highly Dangerous For Young Women

A U.N. Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) report released ahead of World AIDS Day has it that though almost 18 million people living across the world have access to antiretroviral drugs, young and adolescent girls are at increased risk of the disease.

HIV Infection In Young Girls

Girls aged between 15 and 24 who are transitioning to womanhood, particularly those living in sub-Saharan Africa, are increasingly facing HIV-related challenges in their day-to-day life. On account of that, the UNAIDS has come up with a life-cycle based approach to change the scenario for good.

Young women are thrice at risk of developing HIV/AIDS, said Michel Sidibé, the executive director of the Joint UNAIDS program, in a press release. In spite of elevated risk of the disease, young and adolescent girls don't have much access to HIV testing as well as exhibit poor adherence to antiretroviral treatment.

Fast-Track Program To End AIDS Epidemic

Sidibé and the President of Namibia, Hage Geingob, who launched "Get on the Fast-Track: the life-cycle approach to HIV" report in Windhoek, noted that prevention is the only way to put an end to the AIDS epidemic spreading among young women.

The report emphasizes the importance of breaking the cycle by which young girls acquire the deadly disease. According to data from South Africa, young and adolescent girls get infected from adult men sooner in life during their transition to womanhood. Men, however, were found to have acquired the infection much later in life and serve as a potential source of new infection cycles.

Worldwide HIV/AIDS Statistics

Meanwhile, the report has also released encouraging statistics indicating that for the last six months — from January 2016 to June 2016 — about 1 million more people have had access to HIV treatment. According to the data recorded until June 2016, about 18.2 million people including 910,000 children were on life-saving medication.

Sidibé and Geingob said that only 15 million people had access to antiretroviral medication until two years ago. The scenario has not only improved significantly but new HIV infection in children has also fallen drastically. The Fast-Track program that aims to put an end to the AIDS epidemic by 2030 should come true not only in Namibia and Africa but also throughout the world, added the duo.

However, Sidibé noted that the efforts to eradicate AIDS across the world are far from over.

"The progress we have made is remarkable, particularly around treatment, but it is also incredibly fragile," said Sidibé.

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