Western and Central Africa account for nearly a quarter of HIV diagnoses among children and adolescents, worldwide. According to a report by Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris, over half a million children up to the age of 15 are believed to be HIV-positive in these regions.
With rising numbers of diagnoses and limited treatment centers, experts say Western and Central Africa will soon reach the levels seen in Southern and Eastern Africa — the most affected region in the world, with 19.4 million people living with HIV.
As Al Jazeera points out, young people in Western and Central Africa represent a merging health crisis: a new HIV-positive generation that is sexually active. Unfortunately, in these regions upwards of 80 percent of young people are HIV-positive and don’t know it. Even when they do, eight out of 10 people living with the virus have little to no access to antiretrovirals.
For children living with HIV, the transition into adulthood welcomes a plethora of troubles when it comes to healthcare given that most treatment facilities in these regions fail to optimize the transition from pediatric to adult.
Because sexual activity is high among adolescents, transmission of HIV from a positive partner who doesn’t know their status to an HIV-negative partner is all too common. HIV stigma associated to those living with the virus has also discouraged young people to get tested — for those lucky enough to have access to facilities in government hospitals, which are far in between.
Watch the report below: