WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — UNICEF explained that many of the adolescents contracted the disease as infants about 15 years ago, when HIV-positive women had less access to treatment to prevent the disease from spreading.
"AIDS is the number one cause of death among adolescents in Africa and the second leading cause of death among adolescents globally," UNICEF said. "Among HIV-affected populations, adolescents are the only group for which the mortality figures are not decreasing."
Since 2000, however, about 1.3 million new HIV infections among children have been prevented due to better mother-to-child prevention methods.
A critical element in stopping the spread of the disease is to enable HIV-positive youths access to treatment, care and support, UNICEF’s global HIV/AIDS programs head Craig McClure said.
"At the same time, those who are HIV-negative must have access to the knowledge and means to help them to stay that way," McClure noted.
At present, less than half of all children under the age of two have been tested for HIV, and out of the 2.6 million HIV-positive children under the age of 15 only one in three are receiving treatment, according to UNICEF.