Every 100 seconds one child or youth U20 catches HIV infection, UNICEF

Once in every minute and 40 seconds, a child or young person under the age of 20 was infected with HIV last year, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Wednesday. A little less than half of children worldwide did not have access to life-saving treatment, UNICEF said in a new report. It adds the Prevention efforts and treatment for children are still the lowest in highly affected populations. 

Nearly 3,20,000 children and adolescents were newly infected with HIV and 1,10,000 children died of AIDS last year, reports a news agency. “Children are still getting infected at alarming rates, and they are still dying from AIDS. This was even before Covid-19 interrupted vital HIV treatment and prevention services putting countless more lives at risk,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. The differences in access to life-saving HIV services for children, adolescents and pregnant mothers everywhere were worsened by the deadly pandemic. 

“Even as the world struggles in the midst of an ongoing global pandemic, hundreds of thousands of children continue to suffer the ravages of the HIV epidemic,” said Fore. The Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) data shows the impact of control measures, supply chain disruptions, lack of personal protective equipment, and the redeployment of healthcare workers on HIV services.  Pediatric HIV treatment and viral load testing in children in some countries fell by 50 to 70%. Health facility deliveries and maternal treatment were also reported to have reduced by 20 to 60%, maternal HIV testing and antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation by 25 to 50%, and infant testing services by approximately 10%. 

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