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HIV infections plummet among young adults: UN report

Ahead of the International AIDS Conference in Vienna next week, the UN announced that young people are leading the charge against HIV infection.

By Correspondent / July 16, 2010

Nairobi, Kenya

HIV infections among young adults have plummeted in 15 of the world's worst-affected countries, according to a new UN report that credits the improvements to positive changes in sexual behavior.

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From 2000 to 2005, the proportion of people ages 15 to 24 with the HIV virus in Kenya dropped 60 percent, according to the findings of a global study by the United Nations’ anti-AIDS arm, UNAIDS. In Ethiopia, there was a 47 percent reduction in HIV prevalence among pregnant young women and a 29 percent drop in rural areas among all young adults.

“These excellent results in this report have happened because young people are adopting safer behaviors. They have shown that they can be agents of change,” Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS’ executive director, said in the report (pdf).

HIV prevalence among young people has declined by more than 25 percent in 15 of the 21 countries most affected by AIDS. The study also found that in 13 countries, young people are waiting longer before they become sexually active, having fewer partners, and using condoms more often.

'Message getting through'

Botswana, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, and Zimbabwe have all achieved a goal set in 2001 to reduce HIV prevalence in 15-to-24-year-olds by 25 percent by 2010, the report found. Burundi, Lesotho, Rwanda, Swaziland, the Bahamas, and Haiti are all "likely to achieve" it by the end of the year.