While adolescent deaths are projected to rise, children aged between 0 and 4 face the highest risk of AIDS-related deaths compared to other age groups, according to Unicef. However, AIDS-related deaths among that age group have fallen by 70 percent since 2000. The vast majority of new HIV infections among children—85 percent—occurred in sub-Saharan Africa.
“The world has made tremendous progress in the global effort to end AIDS, but the fight is far from over—especially for children and adolescents,” Anthony Lake, Unicef executive director, said in a statement on Wednesday. “Every two minutes, another adolescent—most likely a girl—will be infected with HIV. If we want to end AIDS, we need to recapture the urgency this issue deserves—and redouble our efforts to reach every child and every adolescent.”
In the U.S., 1.2 million people live with HIV, and one in eight don’t know they have HIV, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While there’s been an overall decrease, diagnoses among certain groups, including black gay and bisexual men, have increased over the past decade.
UNICEF says that funding for its AIDS program has declined since 2014, despite progress made in avoiding new infections. The organization recommends early diagnosis, as “knowing one’s status is the first step to keeping children and adolescents with HIV alive and healthy.” Encouraging adolescents, especially girls, to stay in school is also critical to stave off new infections, according to Unicef.