Odishatv Bureau

According to UNICEF, approximately 110,000 children and adolescents between the ages of 0 and 19 died from AIDS-related causes last year. Meanwhile, 310,000 new HIV infections occurred, bringing the total number of young people living with HIV to 2.7 million. UNICEF released its latest global snapshot on children and HIV/AIDS ahead of World AIDS Day on December 1.

According to UNICEF, progress in HIV prevention and treatment for children, adolescents, and pregnant women has nearly stalled in the last three years, with many regions still lacking pre-COVID-19 service coverage. This is on top of an already existing and widening treatment gap between children and adults.

Children are falling through the cracks as a result of our collective failure to find, test, and treat them. Every day that no progress is made, over 300 children and adolescents succumb to AIDS. UNICEF has warned that unless the root causes of inequity are addressed, ending AIDS in children and adolescents will remain a distant dream.

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Longer-term trends, however, remain positive, with new HIV infections among children aged 0 to 14 dropping by 52% between 2010 and 2021. New infections among adolescents aged 15 to 19 fell by 40%. While the overall number of children living with HIV is decreasing, the treatment gap between children and adults is widening, according to UNICEF.

Many regions, including Asia and the Pacific, the Caribbean, Eastern and Southern Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, and West and Central Africa, saw drops in treatment coverage in pregnant and breastfeeding women in 2020, with Asia and the Pacific and the Middle East and North Africa experiencing further declines in 2021. With the exception of West and Central Africa, which continues to bear the greatest burden of mother-to-child transmission, none of the aforementioned regions has recovered to the coverage levels achieved in 2019. These disruptions endanger the lives of newborn babies.

According to the snapshot, more than 75,000 new child infections will occur in 2021 as a result of pregnant women not being diagnosed and treated.