Press Release

Two in Three Young People With HIV Are Female, UNICEF Finds

May 6, 2009

In India, brochures about the correct use of condoms are distributed to students at a school in Mundavar village, Behror district.
© UNICEF India/2007/Sandeep Biswas
UNICEF UK has highlighted that insufficient attention is being given to preventing the transmission of HIV among young people under the age of 25. In a new report, 'HIV prevention with young people: The key to tackling the epidemic', the world's leading children's rights organisation called for urgent action, stressing that prevention of HIV among young people is key to tackling the global epidemic.

The report marks the launch of UNICEF UK's 'We want to live free from HIV' campaign, which aims to raise £2 million for HIV prevention and remind governments of the importance of effective HIV prevention amongst young people.

Statistics in today's report reveal that girls and young women remain far more vulnerable to HIV infection than young men, with two-thirds of the 5.5 million 15- and 24-year-olds with HIV worldwide being women. The majority of these young people still lack comprehensive and correct information about how to prevent HIV infection, or do not have the power to act on that knowledge.

"Many young people have heard of HIV and AIDS but don't know how it's spread and don't believe they are at risk," said Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF UK, Anita Tiessen. "More attention has to be given to preventing the spread of HIV by working alongside young people to make sure that prevention work is designed and delivered in a way that is 'youth friendly' and really meets their needs," she added.

In Southern Africa, home to 67% of all people with HIV, young women are two- to four-and-a-half times more likely to be infected than men of the same age. Girls are put at risk through having multiple sexual partners at the same time, having sex with older men, having sex in exchange for money or goods and being abused.

"HIV can be best avoided through a three-pronged approach -- by making sure people have the right information, can access health services, and get protection when they need it," Anita Tiessen added. "Up until now, these three approaches have too often been used in isolation and not enough attention has been given to knowing how HIV spreads and to taking a more effective combined approach."

UNICEF is working globally to provide the training and skills young people need to live free from HIV, with HIV prevention programmes addressing behavioural change and social issues, as well as providing essential health services to reduce the risk to children and young people.

'We want to live free from HIV' is part of UNICEF's global campaign 'Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS', launched globally in 2005 to place children at the centre of the response to HIV and AIDS.

Find Out More

This article was provided by UNICEF.
See Also
Read the Full UNICEF UK Report, Preventing HIV With Young People: The Key to Tackling the Epidemic (PDF)
More on HIV Treatment in the Developing World

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