Maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health

HIV and young people

Young people between 15 and 24 made up 40% of all new HIV infections in 2009. Increasingly, children infected at birth grow into adolescents who have to deal with their HIV positive status. There at five million young people living with HIV.

Young people’s risk of HIV infection is closely correlated with age of sexual debut. Abstinence from sexual intercourse and delayed initiation of sexual behaviour are among the central aims of HIV prevention efforts for young people. Decreasing the number of sexual partners and increasing access to, and utilization of comprehensive prevention services, including prevention education and provision of condoms are essential for young people who are sexually active.


Programmes should also focus on prevention and early intervention in other health risk behaviours that may lead to HIV infection, such as injecting substances. Young people need HIV testing services that are accessible and appropriate. Young people living with HIV need treatment, care, support and positive prevention services. All HIV services for young people should involve young people living with HIV in their planning and provision.

HIV constitutes an important entry-point for WHO's work on young people. Building on the commitment to MGD6, the department has produced documents and tools to support the health sector to strengthen its response to HIV for young people.