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Children and young people have been the missing face in the HIV and AIDS response and their needs have often been overlooked. Yet, they are the ones who offer the greatest hope for defeating the epidemic. HIV and AIDS and their impact on children continue to remain at the core of UNICEF’s work.

HIV and AIDS key data

  • An estimated 3.3 million children worldwide were living with HIV in 2012 (UNAIDS).
  • Globally, the number of AIDS-related deaths overall fell by 30 per cent between 2005 and 2012, but has increased amongst adolescents (10-19 years) by 50 per cent (2012).
  • About 260,000 children aged 0–14 years were newly infected with HIV in 2012, a reduction of 52 per cent since 2001, and 35 per cent since 2009.
  • An estimated 210,000 children died from AIDS-related illnesses (2012).

UNAIDS regional estimates for children under 14 living with HIV (2012)

  • Sub-Saharan Africa: 2.9 million
  • South & South-East Asia: 200,000
  • Latin America: 40,000
  • Middle East & North Africa: 20,000
  • Eastern Europe & Central Asia 19,000
  • Caribbean: 16,000
  • East Asia: 8,200
  • North America: 4,500
  • Oceania: 3,100
  • Western & Central Europe: 1,600

Prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) 

  • Expanded access to prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV programmes prevented more than 850,000 children aged 0- 14 years in low- and middle-income countries  from being infected with HIV between 2005 and 2012.Almost 90 per cent of children newly infected with HIV live in just 22 countries and all of them except one country are in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • An estimated 1.5 million women living with HIV in low- and middle-income countries were pregnant in 2012. About 900,000 of them (62 per cent) received antiretroviral medicines to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. This is an increase from 49 per cent coverage in 2010.
  • Half of all new HIV infections among children occur during the breastfeeding period when the majority of lactating women are not receiving the treatment necessary to prevent HIV transmission.
  • An estimated 40 per cent of pregnant women in low- and middle-income countries received HIV testing and counselling in 2012, up from 26 per cent in 2009.

Paediatric care and treatment

  • In low- and middle-income countries, overall antiretroviral therapy (ART) coverage for children under 15 years has consistently been around half that for adults – 34 per cent compared to 64 per cent for adults in 2012.
  • In the 22 priority countries in 2012, only 1 in 3 (33 per cent) children under-15 received HIV treatment.

Preventing infection among young adolescents and young people

  • In 2012, about one third of all new infections occurred among young people aged 15–24 years (780,000). Of these, about 300,000 were among adolescents aged 15–19 years.
  • Approximately 2.1 million young people aged 10-19 years were living with HIV globally at the end of 2012, more than 80 per cent of them in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Approximately two thirds of new HIV infections in adolescents aged 15–19 years were among girls (2012).
  • In three countries in Africa, more than 80 per cent of the adolescents aged 15-19 years who were newly infected with HIV in 2012 were adolescent girls – in South Africa (82 per cent), Sierra Leone (85 per cent), and Gabon (89 per cent).
  • Eastern and Southern Africa accounted for the majority of adolescents living with HIV in 2012 (63 per cent). This was followed by Western and Central Africa (18 per cent) and South Asia (6 per cent). 

AIDS orphans

  • Globally, about 17.8 million children have lost one or both parents to AIDS. 85 per cent of them live in sub-Saharan Africa (2012).  
  • 5.5 million children globally have lost both parents due to AIDS (2012)
  • Globally, there are about 17.6 million 'double orphans' -- children who have lost both parents from all causes, including AIDS.



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