Over 300 children and adolescents die every day from AIDS-related causes

Some 320 children and adolescents died every day from AIDS-related causes in 2018, or 13 every hour, according to a global snapshot on children, HIV and AIDS released by UNICEF.

Low access to antiretroviral treatment, in addition to limited prevention efforts, is a leading cause for these deaths, with only 54 per cent of children aged 0-14 living with HIV in 2018 – or 790,000 children – receiving lifesaving antiretroviral therapy.

“The world is on the cusp of making great gains in the battle against HIV and AIDS, but we must not rest on the laurels of progress made,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “Neglecting testing and treatment initiatives for children and adolescents is a matter of life and death, and for them, we must choose life.”

  • In 2018, around 160,000 children aged 0-9 were newly infected with HIV, bringing the total number of children in this age group living with HIV to 1.1 million.
  • 89,000 children under the age of five were infected during pregnancy or birth and 76,000 were infected during breastfeeding in 2018
  • 140,000 adolescent girls were newly infected with HIV in 2018, compared to 50,000 adolescent boys.
  • Improve HIV testing and treatment data for children and adolescents to better respond to the needs of this vulnerable population.
  • Invest in and implement effective and innovative interventions to urgently close the persistent testing and treatment gap for children and adolescents living with HIV.

“The cost of failing to test and treat every child at risk of HIV is one we measure in children’s lives and futures – a cost that no society can afford. HIV initiatives need to be fully funded and equipped to preserve, protect and improve the quality of life for children, in the first and second decades,” said Fore.

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