Prevention of infection among adolescents and young people
Data review in 2008 by the Joint UNICEF-UNAIDS-WHO-ADB AIDS Data Hub showed minimal HIV prevalence among adolescents younger than 18 – from 0 to 0.1% – in East Asia-Pacific. Surveillance and surveys in various countries showed, however, a slightly higher prevalence range – 0.2– 0.6% among young people ages 20–24 in general. The exceptions are two of the “HIV hotspots” in East Asia-Pacific: Papua Province of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. In Papua, HIV prevalence in the 15–24 age group has reached 3%, with 3.3% adolescents having sexual debut at ages 10–14. In Papua New Guinea, urban HIV prevalence among adolescents ages 15 – 19 is 1.7% for boys and 4.4% for girls; and among those aged 20–24, 2.7% for young men and 6.6% for young women.
• New epidemic trends in the region are revealing a gradual encroachment of HIV among younger populations and increasingly among girls. HIV prevalence in the region indicates a growing feminization of HIV associated with the transmission of HIV from HIV-positive men to their female sexual partners.
• Evidence indicates that there is still a lack of comprehensive knowledge on HIV transmission among young people aged 15–24 years old in selected countries in Asia and Pacific. Mongolia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia have lower levels of comprehensive knowledge compared with other countries. The estimates show that only 5% females and 3% males in Mongolia have comprehensive HIV knowledge. In Papua New Guinea, urban youth have higher knowledge level compared to their rural counterparts. Generally, males have higher knowledge level than females except in Cambodia and Mongolia. In Timor-Leste, a 2007 national behavioural survey of 1,097 youth aged 15–24 years shows that while 6 in 10 had heard about HIV and AIDS, many still have misconception about its transmission routes. For instance, 20–50% believed that HIV can spread through mosquito or other insect bites, and by sharing clothes and eating with an HIV-infected person. In the Philippines, the levels of comprehensive knowledge about HIV prevention among most-at-risk populations are low, particularly among female sex workers and men who have sex with men.