Young people falling through gaps in HIV services

Burnet Institute

26 November, 2013

On the eve of World AIDS Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that gaps in HIV services for young people has led to a rise in the infection rate globally.

More than two million young people between the ages of 10 and 19 are living with HIV and according to the WHO, many do not receive the care and support they need to stay healthy and prevent transmission, leaving millions more at risk of infection.

Limited HIV support services for young people has resulted in a 50 per cent increase in AIDS-related deaths in this age group compared with the 30 per cent decline in the general population from 2005-2012.

For the first time, the WHO has released guidelines to address the specific needs of young people living with HIV and those at risk of infection.

Director of the WHO HIV/AIDS Department, Dr Gottfried Hirnschall said young people need health services and support tailored to their needs.

“Adolescents face difficult and often confusing emotional and social pressures as they grow from children to adults,” Dr Hirnschall said.

“They are less likely than adults to be tested for HIV and often need more support than adults to help them maintain care and to stick to treatment.”

UNICEF Chief of HIV programmes, Craig McClure said adolescent girls, young men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, or those who are subject to sexual coercion and abuse are at highest risk.

“They face many barriers, including harsh laws, inequalities, stigma and discrimination which prevent them from accessing services that could test, prevent and treat HIV,” Mr McClure said.

“About one-seventh of all new HIV infections occur during adolescence. Unless the barriers are removed, the dream of an AIDS-free generation will never be realised.”

CLICK HERE to access WHO’s recommendations, HIV and adolescents: Guidance for HIV testing and counselling and care for adolescents living with HIV.

Health Issue

Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Professor Mark A Stoové

Head of Public Health Discipline




[email protected]

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