Slow progress on AIDS-related deaths among adolescents

04 October 2021

Current inequalities in HIV testing and treatment for children living with HIV and trends in historical coverage of services to prevent vertical (mother-to-child) transmission of HIV are driving year-on-year trends in AIDS-related mortality.

Reductions in AIDS-related deaths among children and adolescents are steepest among children aged 0 to 9 years (a 60% decline since 2010), reflecting both improvement in efforts to prevent new vertical infections and efforts to diagnose and treat children in the months following childbirth and during breastfeeding.

However, among adolescents (aged 10–19 years), progress is slower, with AIDS-related deaths declining just 37% over the same period.

The single biggest paediatric treatment challenge is to rapidly find children living with HIV who were missed at birth or during breastfeeding and link them to care. Scale-up of rights-based index, family and household testing and self-testing, and integrating HIV screening with other child health services, can help close this gap. 

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