AIDS has become top killer of adolescents in Africa

Eight health organizations have launched a global campaign to stem the spread of HIV among young adults. Adolescent girls in Sub-Saharan Africa are most affected.

Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters/File
A youth uses a syringe to take her medication at Nkosi's Haven, south of Johannesburg, South Africa, November 28, 2014.

AIDS has become the leading cause of death for adolescents in Africa and the second leading cause of death among adolescents globally, global health agencies said Tuesday.

About 120,000 people aged between 10-19 years died of AIDs-related illnesses in 2013, eight international organizations said while launching a global campaign in Kenya to stem the spread among adolescents. U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Deborah Birx said the future of the region rests in the health and well-being of the youth.

Adolescent girls in sub-Saharan Africa are most affected, said the organizations, which included UNAIDs, U.N. children's fund, World Health Organization and the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief or PEPFAR, among others.

In South Africa in 2013, more than 860 girls became infected with HIV every week, compared to 170 boys, the organizations said.

The campaign, called "All In" will seek to address the imbalance by encouraging strategic changes in policy and involving more young people in the effort, the organizations said.

UNAIDS said it aims to reduce HIV infections in adolescents by 75 percent, and AIDS-related deaths by 65 percent by 2020.

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