World leaders unite towards ending the AIDS epidemic among adolescents | September 29, 2014

(L to R) Caya Lewis, Deputy Coordinator of PEPFAR; Mwewa Nkhoma Liswaniso from Zambia; Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS;  L’Orangelis Thomas Negrón from Puerto Rico; Pablo Aguilera, Director of the HIV Young Leaders Fund at the side event: All In! Towards Ending the AIDS Epidemic among Adolescentsheld at UN, during the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, on September 26, 2014, New York City.

Global leaders have committed to take action towards ending the AIDS epidemic among adolescents. At a meeting during the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly, co-hosted by UNICEF, UNAIDS and the Governments of Brazil and Kenya, representatives of more than 20 countries came together to join a growing movement to advance the response to HIV among adolescents.

During the meeting, participants pledged their support to All In, a joint initiative between UNICEF, UNAIDS and partners to reduce new HIV infections among adolescents by at least 75% and increase HIV treatment to reach at least 80% of adolescents living with the virus. The initiative outlines that the targets can be achieved through providing HIV prevention, testing, treatment, care and social change programmes that focus on the specific needs of adolescents living with, or at higher risk of acquiring, HIV.

A global movement to advance efforts towards ending the AIDS epidemic among adolescents is urgently needed as this is the only age group among which AIDS-related deaths are actually increasing. AIDS-related illnesses are the second leading cause of death among adolescents aged 10–19 years globally, and the leading cause of death among adolescents in Africa.

In 2013, there were an estimated 2.1 million adolescents living with HIV, more than 80% of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa. Many still do not know their status. Almost two thirds of the 250 000 new infections among 15–19 year olds in 2013 were among adolescent girls.

During the event, speakers, including young people living with HIV, called on leaders to reflect on their current efforts to prevent the spread of HIV among adolescents, and to invest more in the most effective interventions.

Government representatives from around the world, including Botswana, Brazil, Thailand and Ukraine, pledged their commitment to go All In for adolescents.

The formal launch of All In is scheduled for early 2015.

Quotes

“Today we shine a light on what can only be described as a “blind spot” in the global fight against HIV and AIDS—adolescents. While deaths due to AIDS have decreased in other age groups since 2005, for adolescents, they have actually increased.”

Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF

“All In is about working with young people as actors of change. We need to empower young people to demand their right to health and be involved in decision making processes which concern them.”

Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS

“We have completely failed adolescent girls and young women, collectively. All In is our opportunity to reverse this!”

Mark Dybul, Director of the Global Fund to Fight, Tuberculosis and Malaria

“We need to make sure we are doing the right things, in the right place, at the right time. We see our efforts of focusing on adolescent girls as an opportunity to support All In.”

Caya Lewis, Deputy Coordinator of PEPFAR

“We can no longer afford deaths that are completely preventable—it is our responsibility to act. There is commitment and political will—now it’s time for action.”

Pablo Aguilera, Director of the HIV Young Leaders Fund

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