The United Nations and the World Bank released a joint report, “Opportunity in Crisis: Preventing HIV from Early Adolescence to Young Adulthood,” which, for the first time, offers data on HIV infections in young people. It also identifies risk factors for the infection and strategies for prevention. According to the report, 2,500 youth are infected with HIV daily, with a higher rate for girls and women, and people between 15 and 24 constituted 41 percent of new infections in 2009.
The report attributes the higher rate of HIV for young women and to their biological vulnerability, as well as social inequality and exclusion. Women account for over 60 percent of all young people who are living with HIV, and in sub-Saharan Africa, women are 72 percent of those infected.
Anthony Lake, executive director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), stated, “For many young people HIV infection is the result of neglect, exclusion, and violations that occur with the knowledge of families, communities, social and political leaders….We must protect the second decade of life, so that the journey from childhood to adulthood is not derailed by HIV-a journey that is especially fraught for girls and young women.”