Deaths tied to AIDS Increasing in Asian Youth Population, U.N. Says

By Cheri Cheng - 30 Nov '15 17:07PM
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The Untied Nations is warning of a "hidden [AIDS] epidemic" in the Asia Pacific region. According to UNICEF, the estimated death toll related to AIDS in the youth population within this region has more than doubled over the past decade.

UNICEF is reminding Asian nations of the importance of educating teenagers about the risks involved with HIV/AIDS. The group is also encouraging these countries to find ways of increasing teenagers' accessibility to testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

"Many do not want their parents to know that they've had sex. That puts a barrier between them and testing," said Wing-Sie Cheng, UNICEF regional adviser on HIV and AIDS, reported by Reuters. "If they are turned away from testing, they may be carrying the HIV virus without knowing."

The research found that in 2014, one in seven new HIV infections was recorded in 15- to 19-year-olds, which is a total of about 50,000 cases. There were about 220,000 people between the ages of 10 and 19 living with HIV last year across this region.

From 2005 to 2014, the death rate caused by AIDS in the age group of 10 to 19 increased by 110 percent from 3,100 to 6,600.

"This is the first, definitive report on adolescents - teenagers between 10 and 19," said Wing-Sie. "This report has been a culmination of more than two years of efforts to try to get all available data to help us understand the picture of the epidemic facing them. We're talking about a hidden epidemic."

The report also listed the 10 hardest hit countries, which were Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

Although the region has to improve on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment for the younger population, it has made strides against the incurable virus for adults. From 2000 to 2014, the rate of new HIV infections in adults fell by 31 percent. From 2005 to 2014, the death rate from AIDS has fallen by 28 percent in adults.

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