This report shows that global commitments to reverse the AIDS epidemic will be achieved only if the unique needs of young women and men are acknowledged, and their human rights fulfilled, respected, and protected. In order to reduce new HIV infections among young people, achieve the broader equity goals set out in the MDGs, and begin to reverse the overall HIV epidemic, HIV prevention and treatment efforts must be tailored to the specific needs of young people. The legal and policy barriers that prevent young people from accessing HIV services must be addressed, and young people should be engaged more effectively in the response.
Young people aged 15–24 years are at the forefront of the epidemic. They accounted for 41 per cent of all new HIV infections among adults in 2009; 5 million young women and men were then living with HIV. Young women are particularly vulnerable to HIV, and they disproportionately account for 64 per cent of HIV infections among young people worldwide. Additionally, there must be a focus on young people who inject drugs, young sex workers, and young men who have sex with men, as these key populations are at higher risk of HIV exposure.
The report documents encouraging signs that HIV-prevention efforts are making a difference. A positive change in sexual behaviours, accompanied by declines in HIV prevalence among young people in the most affected countries, indicate that effective services and programmes do exist.