HIV prevalence remains high among youths

Experts focus on innovative solutions to speed up progress against HIV among youth
The world has made great strides in reducing the impact of HIV, and AIDS-related deaths are on the decline in every age group – except among adolescents.  New UNAIDS estimates show that young people continue to be at elevated risk for HIV globally.

Leaders dedicated to changing this reality participated in an official press briefing at the 9th IAS Conference on HIV Science (IAS 2017) today to share insights on novel approaches to reach the next generation with HIV prevention and treatment services.

“We must work with urgency to do a better job of reaching young people with the HIV services they need,” Linda-Gail Bekker, the President of the International AIDS Society (IAS) and International Scientific Chair of IAS 2017, said. “Only then will be able to change the course of the epidemic and truly end HIV.”

Leaders who spoke in the press briefing included: Shanine Musonga, an IAS 2017 Youth Ambassador from Zimbabwe, who highlighted the need for communities to support youth-led prevention and counselling initiatives; Yogan Pilloy of South Africa’s National Department of Health, who provided an overview of the important role that governments can play in meeting young people’s needs; Kate Thomson of the Global Fund, who underscored the importance of investing in young people; and Anna Grimsrud of the IAS, who shared insights from a special supplement of the Journal of the International AIDS Society (JIAS) focused on differentiated HIV care and a related new guidance framework, both launched at IAS 2017.

Several IAS 2017 studies focus on improving HIV treatment and prevention approaches for young people. There is a large study examining a successful community-based HIV counselling and testing programme among adolescent girls and young women in South Africa and its potential implications for PrEP roll out (TUAC0201). A study in six African countries examines the benefits of multi-month prescriptions of HIV treatment for adolescents with HIV (MOAD0105). There is also an analysis of adolescent treatment services in 23 sub-Saharan African countries, with implications for standards of care (MOPDD0101) as well as the evaluation of the cost effectiveness of providing PrEP to young men versus young women in South Africa to inform the country’s PrEP implementation efforts (TUAC0202).