Making sure the journey from Childhood to Adulthood isn’t derailed by HIV, A message by UNICEF Iran OIC representative on World AIDS Day
Tehran, 1 December 2011 - This year World AIDS Day is celebrated under the message “Getting to Zero: Zero new infections, Zero AIDS related deaths and Zero Discrimination. This is while, 2011 marks 30 years since the discovery of AIDS, 10 years since the landmark United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS that declared AIDS an issue of international security, and 5 years since the 2006 High Level Meeting where the universal access commitment was made.
Data indicate that in 2009 people aged 15-24 accounted for 41 per cent of new infections among adults over the age of 15. Furthermore, in 2009, 370 000 [230 000–510 000] children were infected with HIV through mother-to-child transmission.
For many young people HIV infection is the result of neglect, exclusion, and violations that occur due to little or lack of knowledge and skills of young people themselves, their parents, communities and a lack of priority for governments. Meanwhile most pregnant women diagnosed with HIV do not have access to essential care and treatment, including antiretroviral therapy for their own health, to further reduce HIV transmission and prevent orphaning. Far too few living in areas of epidemics are even aware of their own HIV status.
Zero new infection, this year’s message for World AIDS Day, in practical terms means prevention. Prevention of transmission from parents to children and amongst adolescents and young people is a major commitment for all of us.
Reaching the new goal of virtual elimination from the other hand will require a comprehensive approach to Preventing of Mother- to -Child Transmission of HIV, including primary prevention of HIV among women of childbearing age; prevention of unintended pregnancies among women who are HIV-positive; prevention of HIV transmission from HIV-positive women to their infants; and the provision of appropriate treatment, care and support to HIV-positive women and their children and families.
In today’s world, where children and youth have a much wider access to various types of media, including state, social or user generated content, it is essential to make sure these young people are equipped with knowledge and skills to protect themselves against HIV and its risk factors. This materializes only through provision of age-appropriate and culturally sensitive information and services in a way that suits that its intended audience..
However one should bear in mind that getting to Zero infections requires not one single intervention, but a continuum of prevention that provides information, support and services throughout the life cycle. And in this spirit, the most fruitful investment would be on prevention from mother-to-child as well as prevention amongst adolescents and young people through provision of youth-friendly services.
In the Islamic Republic of Iran, UNICEF works with the Government for the implementation of joint projects and programmes. At the moment UNICEF and the Ministry of Health are embarking on development of the Country Programme Action Plan for 2012 to 2016 in the area of HIV and AIDS which primarily focuses on prevention amongst priority populations according to the national strategic plan.
 Opportunity in Crisis: Preventing HIV from early adolescence to young adulthood Joint publication by UNICEF, UNAIDS, UNESCO, UNFPA, ILO, WHO and The World Bank, June 2011
 UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic 2010)