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No. 1 Leading Cause of Death for African Teenagers is AIDS, UNICEF Reports

Update Date: Nov 27, 2015 11:00 AM EST
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AIDS kills more African teenagers than any other disease, the United Nations' agency for children, UNICEF reported on Friday. The report also found that AIDS is the second leading cause of death for adolescents throughout the world.

UNICEF reported that since 2000, the rate of deaths related to AIDS in children and teenagers between the ages of 10 and 19 has increased by three times. The UNICEF's chief of HIV and AIDS division, Craig McClure, noted that the deaths were mainly due to the fact that children who are born with virus do not get adequate treatment. About one third of the 2.6 million children who have HIV are on lifesaving drugs.

"The majority of these deaths are among adolescents who acquired HIV as babies and survived to their teenage years, either without knowing their HIV status or having slipped out of care," the UNICEF report wrote. "Among the HIV-affected populations, adolescents are the only age group for which the mortality figures are not decreasing."

The experts noted that the infection rate also increased in adolescents who were not born with the virus. For the age group of 15 to 19, the report estimated that there are 26 new infections every hour. 70 percent of these infections are in girls.

The report found that the majority of the infections, at 60 percent, were recorded in sub-Saharan Africa. The country within this region that has the highest rate was South Africa followed by Nigeria.

"We've collectively dropped the ball in the second decade of childhood," McClure said, reported by the New York Times.

The report did find that since 2000, prevention tactics were able to avert 1.3 million new infections.

"With each passing year, science provides us with new tools, and experience on the ground informs our approach, making ending AIDS by 2030 a real possibility," UNICEF said. "[However], the majority of adolescents -- especially those most at risk of new infection, including girls, young men who have sex with men, those who are transgender, inject drugs or are sexually exploited -- lack access to proven prevention interventions."

For more information on the report, click here.

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