Women and HIV – A spotlight on adolescent girls and young women

Posted by Maria Codina on March 21, 2019 at 9:32 am

Commitments for Adolescents

In the 2016 United Nations Political Declaration on Ending AIDS, countries made commitments for adolescent girls and young women. However, the world is currently off-track in reaching those commitments.

  • Commitment: reduce the number of new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women from 390 000 in 2015 to
    below 100 000 in 2020.

    • In 2017, there were 340 000 new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women (15–24 years old), well short of the target for 2020.
    • Between 2010 and 2017, there was a 19% decline in new HIV infections among adolescent girls (10–19 years old) globally, and a 25% decline in eastern and southern Africa. In western and central Africa, the number of new HIV infections has remained stable since 2010.
  • Commitment: ensure that 90% of young people have the skills, knowledge and capacity to protect themselves against HIV.
    • An alarming seven in 10 young women in sub-Saharan Africa do not have comprehensive knowledge about HIV.
    • Knowledge about HIV prevention among young people has remained stagnant over the past 20 years. Only one in three young people globally can demonstrate accurate knowledge about HIV prevention and transmission.1 Comprehensive sexuality education programmes are often limited.
    • Only 36.4% of young men and 29.8% of young women in sub-Saharan Africa have basic knowledge about how to protect themselves from HIV.2
    • In western and central Africa, both knowledge about HIV and condom use are low among young people (aged 15–24 years), with fewer than one in three (30.7%) young men and one in four (23%) young women possessing comprehensive and correct knowledge about how to prevent HIV.
  • Commitment: 90% of young people in need have access to sexual and reproductive health services and combination HIV
    prevention options by 2020.
    While recent years have seen important progress, critical gaps remain:

    • In the majority of countries with available data, adolescent girls (aged 15–19 years) have lower rates of satisfied demand for family planning than all women aged 15–49 years.
    • In sub-Saharan Africa, more than 50% of rural young women (15– 24 years of age) have been pregnant before their 18th birthday.3
    • Two hundred million women and girls living in developing countries who want to avoid pregnancy are not using modern methods of contraception.4
    • Globally, cervical cancer claims the lives of an estimated 300 000 women each year.5 Nine out of 10 of those women live in low- and middle income countries. Cervical cancer is preventable with the human papillomavirus vaccine, which is most effective when administered in adolescence before initiation of sexual activity.6
    • Women living with HIV face a fourfold to fivefold greater risk of invasive cervical cancer than women who are not living with HIV. Access to quality integrated sexual and reproductive health information, counselling and services that include prevention of HIV and for sexually transmitted infections and unwanted and early pregnancy are critical for the empowerment of adolescent girls and women and achieving gender equality.


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