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UNICEF IS SERIOUSLY WORRIED OVER INCREASE OF HIV INFECTION

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), has raised concerns over an increased number of HIV/AIDS related death amongst youths and children in Nigeria. According to a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja, a global UNICEF and Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) report launched yesterday, had revealed annual number of AIDS related death among adolescents in West and Central Africa had risen to 35 per cent, leaving the region behind in the global HIV response
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It further revealed that about 43,000 AIDS-related death occurred among children in West and Central Africa in 2016, about 62,000 adolescents between the age of 15 and19 were newly infected with HIV in 2016, and that the 24 countries that make up the West and Central Africa region were home to 25 per cent of children aged 0–14 years living with HIV worldwide.

UNICEF’s West and Central Africa Regional Director, Marie-Pierre Poirier, lamented that the increased infection was as a result of unprotected sexual contact among adolescent girls.

To this end, the report stressed on an urgent need for an improved HIV response for children and adolescents in the region, through among other things, an increased investment in innovations such as new diagnostic and biomedical approaches such as point of care diagnostics, HIV self-testing and pre-exposure prophylaxis. Poirier said: “More than four decades into the HIV epidemic, four in five children living with HIV in West and Central Africa are still not receiving life-saving antiretroviral therapy, and AIDS-related deaths among adolescents aged 15-19 are on the rise, according to a new report released today.

 “While acknowledging progress in several areas, the report Step Up the Pace: Towards an AIDS-free generation in West and Central Africa, jointly published by UNICEF and UNAIDS, shows that West and Central Africa is lagging behind on nearly every measure of HIV prevention, treatment and care programmes for children and adolescents. In 2016, an estimated 60,000 children were newly infected with HIV in West and Central Africa.

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