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Monday, October 5, 1998 Published at 17:47 GMT 18:47 UK


Young teens now high risk group for Aids

Teenagers have become one of the biggest risk groups for HIV

Children entering adolescence have become one of the highest risk groups for Aids, the United Nations was told on Monday.

The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/Aids (UNAIDS) announced on Monday that around 7,000 of the 16,000 daily new HIV cases are among young people aged between 10 and 24.

It says infection is usually through unprotected sexual intercourse or sharing contaminated needles.

Peter Piot, executive director of the UN's joint initiative on Aids, said it was every child's right to have proper access to sex education as well as psychological and social support.


Speaking in Geneva at a meeting on children and Aids organised by the Committee on the Rights of the Child, he said: "Restricting access to sexual health education aimed at postponing first sexual intercourse and practising safer sex are violations of children's rights.

"Girls and boys need to understand how to help take charge of their own lives - to protect themselves and others from the virus in situations of risk."

The Committee monitors the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, signed by all states except Somalia and the USA.

The rights listed in the Convention include access to health care.

In several countries, children are denied sexual health education or services are not designed to meet children's needs, according to the UN.

Aids orphans

UNAIDS also stated that more than 500,000 children were infected with HIV last year either in the womb, during birth or through breast feeding.

[ image: Around 1.6m children were orphaned by Aids in 1997]
Around 1.6m children were orphaned by Aids in 1997
And 1.6m children were orphaned by Aids in 1997.

Children affected by Aids were often exposed to discrimination and denial of their right to basic healthcare, said UNAIDS.

Many Aids orphans were also moved away from their homes when their parents died and some were exposed to exploitation.

The UN says children should have a say in decisions about their healthcare and future.

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