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In 2020, one child every two minutes is infected with HIV

UNICEF said in a report released today that 300,000 new HIV infections occurred among children in 2020, or one child every two minutes. Another 120,000 children died from AIDS-related causes during the same period, or one child every five minutes.

The latest edition of the ‘Global Overview of the State of HIV and AIDS’ report warns that the time-spanning COVID-19 pandemic is deepening the inequality that has long fueled the HIV epidemic, exposing vulnerable groups of children, adolescents, pregnant and breastfeeding women to a level of There is a high risk of losing life-saving HIV prevention and treatment services.

“The HIV epidemic is entering its fifth decade in the midst of a global pandemic that has put significant strains on health care systems and restricted access to life-saving services,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. At the same time, poverty, mental health conditions and abuse are increasing children’s vulnerability. And if we don’t rise up in our efforts to resolve the inequality that fuels the HIV epidemic, which is now exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, we could see more HIV infections and more children losing in the fight against AIDS.”

Another concern is that 2 out of 5 children living with HIV do not know this, and only slightly more than half of children living with HIV receive antiretroviral drugs. There are well-known and long-standing barriers to accessing HIV treatment services, including discrimination and gender inequality.

The report notes that many countries experienced significant disruptions to HIV treatment services due to the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. HIV testing in infants has declined by 50-70 percent, and initiation of treatment has declined. For children under the age of fourteen, 25-50 percent. The general closures contributed to the increase in infection rates due to the escalation of gender-based violence, limited access to follow-up care, and the depletion of many basic necessities. Many countries have also seen a significant decline in the supply of health facilities, a decline in maternal HIV testing and the initiation of antiretroviral drugs. In an example of a steep decline, coverage of antiretroviral drugs among pregnant women fell dramatically in South Asia in 2020, from 71 percent to 56 percent.

Although service capacity was restored in June 2020, coverage levels remain much lower than before COVID-19, and the true extent of the pandemic’s impact remains unknown. Furthermore, the report warns that a prolonged pandemic could further disrupt health care and widen gaps in the global HIV response in regions with a high HIV burden.

In 2020, 89 percent of new HIV infections among children occurred in sub-Saharan Africa, where 88 percent of the world’s HIV-positive children and adolescents live, and teenage girls are six times more likely to contract the virus than boys in this area. And 88 percent of the world’s HIV-related child deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa.

The report says that despite some progress in combating HIV and AIDS, children and adolescents continue to be left behind in all regions over the past decade. Global coverage of antiretroviral drugs is significantly delayed for pregnant women (85 percent) and adults (74 percent). The highest proportion of children receiving antiretroviral treatment is in South Asia (>95 percent), followed by the Middle East and North Africa (77 percent), East Asia and the Pacific (59 percent), and Eastern and Southern Africa (57 percent). percent), Latin America and the Caribbean (51 percent), and West and Central Africa (36 percent).

Among the additional data for 2020 included in the report:

  • New HIV infections occurred among 150,000 children aged 0-9 years, bringing the number of children infected in this age group to 1.03 million.
  • New HIV infections occurred among 150,000 male and female adolescents aged 10–19 years, bringing the number of adolescents infected with HIV to 1.75 million.
  • New HIV infections occurred among 120,000 teenage girls, compared to 35,000 among teenage boys.
  • 120,000 children and adolescents died from AIDS-related causes; 86,000 of them are 0–9 years old, and 32,000 are 10–19 years old.
  • Annual new infections among adolescents in Eastern and Southern Africa have fallen by 41 percent since 2010, while injuries in the Middle East and North Africa have increased by 4 percent over the same period.
  • 15.4 million children lost one or both parents to AIDS-related causes last year, and three quarters, or 11.5 million, of these children lived in sub-Saharan Africa. Children orphaned by AIDS constitute 10 percent of all orphans in the world, but 35 percent of all orphans in the world live in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Building stronger in a post-pandemic environment must include evidence-based, people-centred, resilient, sustainable and, above all, egalitarian responses to HIV,” said Ms. Fore. Through a strengthened health system and through a serious engagement with all affected communities, especially the most vulnerable.”