By Simeon Bennett
Young people in the countries most ravaged by AIDS are opting to delay sexual activity and have fewer partners, helping stem the rate of new HIV infections, a report shows.
Infections among young people have fallen by more than 25 percent in 15 of the 25 countries most affected by the AIDS- causing virus, according to the report published by United Nations today.
“Young people are adopting safer behaviors,” Michel Sidibe, executive director of the UNAIDS program, said in a telephone interview today. “Young people are choosing, for example, to have sex later and to have fewer partners.”
The prevalence of HIV among pregnant women aged 15 to 24 fell 60 percent in Kenya between 2000 and 2005, UNAIDS said in the report. Prevalence declined 56 percent in urban areas of Malawi and Ivory Coast, and by half in Burundi and Haiti. Young pregnant women are considered an indicator of the trend among young people generally, UNAIDS said.
About 5 million people between the ages of 15 and 24 are living with HIV, of which 80 percent live in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the report. AIDS kills about 2 million people each year, making it the most deadly infectious disease.
Providing treatment to all people who need it would help avoid 10 million AIDS-related deaths by 2025, and prevent 1 million new infections a year, according to the report.