World Aids Day 2013 - Focus on young people and adolescents

Ottawa (01 Dec. 2013) - The focus of this year's World Aids Day by the World Health Organization (WHO) is on HIV and young people.

Did you know that there were 35.3 million people living with HIV in 2012, with 2.1 of those people being adolescents. According to the WHO, many young people do not receive the care and support that they need to stay in good health and prevent transmission. In addition, millions more adolescents are at risk of infection.

The failure to support effective and acceptable HIV services for adolescents has resulted in a 50 per cent increase in reported AIDS-related deaths in this group compared with the 30 per cent decline seen in the general population from 2005 to 2012.

Addressing the specific needs of adolescents

The WHO recommendations "HIV and adolescents: Guidance for HIV testing and counselling and care for adolescents living with HIV" are the first to address the specific needs of adolescents both for those living with HIV as well as those who are at risk of infection.

“Adolescents face difficult and often confusing emotional and social pressures as they grow from children into adults,” says Dr Gottfried Hirnschall, Director of WHO HIV/AIDS Department. “Adolescents need health services and support, tailored to their needs. They are less likely than adults to be tested for HIV and often need more support than adults to help them maintain care and to stick to treatment.”

“Adolescents need health services and support, tailored to their needs. They are less likely than adults to be tested for HIV and often need more support than adults to help them maintain care and to stick to treatment," Dr. Hirnschall continues.

Better equipping adolescents and making it easier to know HIV status

WHO recommends governments review their laws to make it easier for adolescents to obtain HIV testing without needing consent from their parents. The guidelines also suggest ways that health services can improve the quality of care and social support for adolescents. And they highlight the value of involving this age group to create an adolescent-centered approach to the services that work for people of their age

“Young people need to be better equipped to manage their HIV infection and take ownership of their health care,” says Dr. Elizabeth Mason, Director of WHO Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health Department. “We have seen for example in Zimbabwe that, by developing adolescent friendly services, it is possible to achieve good treatment outcomes among adolescents. We urge others to be inspired by these examples.”

To help health workers put these recommendations into practice WHO has developed a new online tool which will be launched in January 2014. It uses practical examples from country programmes that are working closely with adolescents on HIV issues.

The WHO recommends:

  • HIV testing and counselling, with linkages to prevention, treatment and care, is recommended for adolescents from key populations in all settings (generalized, low and concentrated epidemics)
  • In generalized epidemics, HIV testing and counselling with linkage to prevention, treatment and care is recommended for all adolescents
  • In low and concentrated epidemics, HIV testing and counselling with linkage to prevention, treatment and care is recommended to be made accessible to all adolescents
  • Adolescents should be counselled about the potential benefits and risks of disclosure of their HIV status to others and empowered and supported to determine if, when, how and to whom to disclose
  • Community-based approaches can improve treatment adherence and retention in care of adolescents living with HIV
  • Training of health-care workers can contribute to treatment adherence and improvement in retention in care of adolescents living with HIV

NUPGE supports Robin Hood Tax to ensure funding is available globally to address HIV/AIDS

We must ensure that the necessary public services and resources are available, no matter where you live, to fight against HIV/AIDS, " said James Clancy, National President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). "Making sure people, especially adolescents and young people receive proper health care and counselling for prevention and treatment is a major part of the reason our union has been advocating for a financial transactions tax, commonly referred to as the Robin Hood Tax.”

The proposal is that Canada and the world's nations would place a 0.05% (1/20th of one per cent) tax on financial transactions. It is estimated that this would generate £250 billion ($400 billion Cdn) a year. A large number of HIV/AIDS groups around the world have joined in the call for the tax to help fund the efforts to eradicate the disease.

"The small transaction tax, if applied globally, would contribute to a massive fund to fight HIV/AIDS. It would go a long way to caring for people living with HIV/AIDS and working toward prevention around the world, "said Clancy. "Our members support this initiative whole-heartedly."

More information:

Robin Hood Tax Canada

NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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