Unicef: Teen Aids deaths triple since 2000

The organisation says Aids is the leading cause of death among teenagers in sub-Saharan Africa.

FILE: Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) has revealed that Aids-related deaths among teenagers across the globe have tripled over the last 15 years.

The children's rights organisation has presented its annual statistics update on HIV/Aids among children and adolescents.

Research shows the teenage population of HIV positive people is the only group that hasn't seen a decrease in deaths.

Unicef says Aids is the leading cause of death among teenagers in sub-Saharan Africa and the second leading cause in this age group globally.

The organisation's HIV/Aids chief Craig Mcclure says there are several reasons why deaths are still prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa.

"Those who are born with HIV received no diagnoses or no treatment, or children who were on peadiatric treatment somehow slipped out of care."

Girls aged between 15 and 19 are most at risk of infection and Aids-related death.

While the death rate is higher in Sub-Saharan Africa, India and Indonesia, it is Brazil and the US which have the highest rates of new teenage infections.

The organisation says only one in every 10 teenagers in the African region is tested for HIV infection despite having the highest death rate among adolescents.

A number of physiological and social factors have been identified as root causes of high infection among this demographic.

Mcclure says females have a higher genetic risk of contracting HIV.

"HIV transmission is much more efficient through unprotected intercourse from men to women, than it is from women to men."

In addition to genetic factors, he says teenage girls in sub-Saharan Africa are further exposed to infection due to unfavorable social conditions such as poor education standards, early marriage, violence, including sexual violence, as well as economic disparities.

Studies show that adolescent girls also have the lowest knowledge about HIV and Aids, further contributing to their high infection rate.