Every two minutes, a teenager between the ages of 15 and 19 is infected with HIV.
This is a disease we know how to prevent and treat. And yet AIDS remains a leading cause of death among adolescents. If progress stalls, new HIV infections among this group is projected to rise by nearly 60% by 2030.
In a new report released today, World AIDS Day, UNICEF calls for dramatic improvements in prevention, treatment and care for children, adolescents and women. It highlights the dangers of decreasing attention and funding for HIV/AIDS. And it urges swift and bold action to end AIDS — one of the major human rights issues of our time.
Livey Van Wyk of Namibia believes an AIDS-free generation is possible. Pregnant and HIV-positive at age 17, she was alone and scared, ostracized by her community and abandoned by her family. But then she enrolled in a UNICEF-supported program where she was given antiretroviral treatment, and gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Remi.
After the birth, Livey took control of her life. She obtained a certificate in project management. She spoke publicly about her HIV status to help fight stigma and discrimination. Together with UNICEF, she recorded radio programs to educate youth; shared her story in a book entitled, A Diary from the Land of the Brave; and was invited to speak at the UN General Assembly and meet Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Then at age 26, Livey was elected mayor of her town — the youngest politician ever to be elected in the country — and launched a housing project that benefits poor families. "If UNICEF had not been part of my life, I would not be where I am today."
With more than 70% of HIV-positive pregnant women receiving antiretroviral treatment, the world has never been so close to eradicating mother-to-child transmission of the virus. Click here to learn more about how UNICEF is working toward an AIDS-free generation.
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