Picture: EPA
LONDON: Teenagers, and particularly girls, are bearing the brunt of the global Aids pandemic, with around 30 adolescents becoming infected with HIV every hour, according to a report by the UN children’s fund Unicef.

Of those 30 new infections each hour among 15 to 19-year olds in 2017, around 20 - or two-thirds - were girls, Unicef said, representing a “crisis of health as well as a crisis of agency”.

While there has been substantial progress in the fight against Aids in the past two decades, the failure to prevent so many new infections among children and teenagers was slowing this down, the report said.

The pandemic’s spread among adolescent girls was being fuelled by early sex, including with older men, forced sex, powerlessness in negotiating around sex, poverty and lack of access to confidential counselling and testing services.

“In most countries, women and girls lack access to information, services or even just the power to say no to unsafe sex,” said Henrietta Fore, Unicef’s executive director. “HIV thrives among the most vulnerable and marginalised, leaving teenage girls at the centre of the crisis.”

Unicef’s report, presented yesterday at an Aids conference in Amsterdam, said 130000 children aged 19 and under died from Aids last year, while 430000 - almost 50 an hour - were newly infected.

Adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 account for almost two thirds of the 3 million under-19s living with HIV. - Reuters/African News Agency (ANA)