Kenya is among six countries with the highest number of adolescents infected with HIV/Aids in the world.
In its 2015 report on HIV/Aids among children titled: ‘Statistical Update on Children, Adolescents and AIDS’, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) says almost half of the adolescents with HIV worldwide are in the six countries that include Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Nigeria, Mozambique and India.
The study says 26 adolescents are infected every hour in the Sub-Saharan region yet only one in 10 is tested for HIV.
Unicef described Aids as the number one cause of death among teenagers in Sub-Saharan Africa with the number of those dying from the condition having tripled in the last 15 years.
Mr Craig McClure, Unicef’s head of global HIV/Aids programmes, said on Tuesday in Johannesburg that adolescent is the only group where deaths are ever on the increase.
MOTHER-TO-CHILD INFECTIONS REDUCED
However, on a positive note, nearly 1.3 million new infections among children have been averted since 2000, largely due to advances in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Incidentally, another report by the Ministry of Health presented at a ceremony to mark the World Aids Day in Nairobi on Tuesday reported Aids is the leading cause of mortality among adolescents and young people in Kenya.
At least 9,720 adolescents and young people died of Aids in 2014, the report said.
It also disclosed that 13,000 new HIV infections occurred among children under the age of 14.
While majority of adolescents who die from aids-related illnesses were infected with HIV as infants, at a time fewer pregnant women carrying the virus received antiretroviral medication to prevent transmission, many of them have survived into their teens, sometimes without knowing their HIV status, hence spreading the virus.
Adolescent girls and young women, according to the report account for 71 per cent of new infections among youth between 15-24 years.
UNAIDS Country Coordinator Dr Jantine Jacobi said during the celebrations that even though the world has experienced a 35 per cent decrease in new infections since 2000, and staggering decline in Aids related deaths since 2004 due to the availability of treatment, two million people were infected last year alone.