While HIV infection rates and deaths around the world have declined over the past two decades, the mortality rate for African teenagers has remained high and is the leading cause of death for the young demographic, according to a recently released UNICEF report. The report comes just in time for World AIDS Day on Monday, when there is a national push for testing and awareness about the disease.
In Johannesburg, South Africa, teenagers are the only group of people whose HIV infection rates have not been declining, according to the report.
World leaders want to help. The United Nations AIDS board has adopted what it called a “bold and ambitious strategy” to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. The approach was mapped out in October and is referred to as a “fast-track” approach because of how near the eradication goal is. The announcement of that goal was an “an urgent call for front-load investment” to accelerate HIV infection prevention and reach treatment targets.
Part of that approach is to make sure that those infected with HIV find out about their condition. You can get tested for free on World AIDS Day and can find a location through one of these locators.
Give a child love,laughter nt AIDS..I feel sad whn i mt such children who evn cnt go 2 normal school World AIDS Day pic.twitter.com/gFDD5kRLFQ
— Sapna Mishra (@ISapnaMishra) November 30, 2015
A U.N. fact sheet shows that the stakes are high. There were 36.9 million people in the world living with HIV, and 38.1 million have become infected with the virus since 2000. While that number may seem high, new HIV infections have decreased by 35 percent in that same period. Infections for children have decreased by 58 percent during that time as well. Furthermore, the recent high-profile revelation that actor Charlie Sheen has HIV may further elevate awareness of the disease.
World AIDS Day is held every year. It calls on people to unite in their fight against the epidemic and remember those who have died from the disease. It calls on people to unite in solidarity for those living with the disease. Buying a red ribbon, organizations say, is a good way to do that.