Teenagers and HIV/AIDS

Candles lit up in the shape of the AIDS symbol

In 1981, U.S. scientists reported the first clinical evidence of a disease that would later become known as Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). In 1959, the oldest specimen of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) ever was detected in a blood sample of a man in Leopoldville, Congo. In 1981, the first cases of unusual immune system failures were identified among gay men, women and those injecting drugs.

This disease is different from other diseases, since it is related to social, cultural, behavioural, economic, moral and ethical issues. The role of education is considered as the most important in controlling and finding solutions to HIV/AIDS pandemic. Therefore, the first and foremost need is to create awareness among the world’s population.

UN Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS

One of the most momentous steps that the United Nations has taken is to focus on health, especially on the AIDS epidemic. Globally, an estimated 35.3 million people were living with HIV in 2012. However, globally a 33% decline in the number of new infections was seen and the number of AIDS deaths was declining by 1.6 million, according to a UN Report on AIDS in 2013.

Drug injecting impact on HIV/AIDS

The prominent practice of injecting drugs as a driver of HIV epidemics varies from country to country. As estimated by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), regional prevalence of injecting drugs ranges from less than 0.2% in sub-Saharan Africa to approximately 1.3% of adults in Eastern Europe and central Asia. Globally, at least 158 countries reported the practice of injecting drug and 120 countries have documented HIV among people who inject drugs. According to recent modes of transmission analysis, people who inject drugs and their sexual partners accounted for 68% of new HIV infections in Iran, 40% in eastern European countries and 36% in the Philippines.

Considerably greater efforts to implement evidence-based strategies and sound policy frameworks will be needed if the world is to achieve its goal of having a lesser number of new HIV infections. In fact, there is very little reduction in HIV transmission among people who inject drugs but the prevalence of HIV remains high among them in Asia. Continued efforts have been made to mobilize financial resources for the AIDS response in 2012 although AIDS expenditure remains short of the global target of US $22-24 billion per year. In 2012, an estimated US $18.9 billion were available for HIV programmes in low and middle income countries.

Teenagers and HIV/AIDS

International and national studies demonstrate that the AIDS pandemic remains dynamic among adolescents. More than half of newly-infected patients are between 15 to 24 years, indicating that adolescents and young adults should be the essential focus of any HIV prevention programmes. Nineteen per cent of U.S. AIDS cases occur among people in their 20s. In comparison to adults, a disproportionate number of African-American adolescents are HIV+, accounting for 59% of AIDS cases. Females comprised 37% of AIDS cases among adolescents aged 13 to 19 compared with 18% among adult AIDS cases.

Read the full article by subscribing to the print magazine or the digital edition.

Dr Joseph Pullan
Latest posts by Dr Joseph Pullan (see all)

Dr Joseph Pullan

Dr Joseph Pullan, former Deputy Registrar of the North-Eastern Hill University, (NEHU) Shillong, Meghalaya, has done extensive study on the level of awareness of HIV/AIDS among adolescents and school dropouts. He passionately encourages the youth to keep learning and shares his knowledge for the benefit of the teenagers.