Children and Adolescents
An estimated 3.2 million children under the age of 15 are living with HIV and a devastating 18 million children have lost one or both parents to AIDS.
Despite dramatic progress on reducing new infections in children 240,000 children worldwide acquired HIV in 2013: one new infection every two minutes.
Most children living with HIV acquired the virus from their mothers during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding. This doesn’t need to happen – interventions exist which dramatically reduce the likelihood of transmission of HIV between mothers and their unborn children (down to a 2% risk), but these interventions are not always widely available in the countries where we work.
We increase children and families’ access to HIV services, and pregnant women who test positive for HIV are supported with treatment to keep their babies HIV free and we work with community organisations to give children and families the support they need. Globally children are still lagging behind in terms of access to treatment with only 24% of children who need treatment accessing it. Our programmes work with communities to promote testing of infants and children and support their access and retention in treatment programmes.
We aim to reach children who are often excluded from mainstream HIV services but need the same support. This includes children of drug users, children of sex workers, street children and working children. Our community-based response helps identify and offer support to the most marginalised families.
Slipping through the crack
Young people account for 40% of all new HIV infections globally and some two million adolescents 10-19 are living with HIV. In 2014 WHO released data that showed that HIV is now the second largest killer of adolescents globally and the first in Africa. This represents a 50 % increase in deaths since 2005 in a period where there has been a 30% decline in other groups.
That’s why ambitious programmes like Link Up - our five country project aiming to improve the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of more than one million young people living with and affected by HIV - are critical.
We are providing sexual health services, support and advice to young people age 10-24 years. We want all children and young people to be supported to develop the self-confidence, skills and understanding they need to enjoy and take responsibility for their sexual lives, sexual health and wellbeing.
We work with local health clinics and community organisations to create services where young people feel safe and comfortable and where the barriers facing young people in accessing services are removed.
Our particular focus is on young women and men living with HIV, young people selling sex, young men who have sex with men and young transgender people, all of whom experience extreme difficulties accessing services due to the high levels of stigma, discrimination, and in some cases, the fear of violence or arrest.