By Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Johannesburg - Aids is the number one cause of death among teenagers in Africa, the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) said on Friday.
Among HIV-affected populations, adolescents are the only group for which the mortality figures are not decreasing, the organisation said in a statement about its report titled "Statistical Update on Children, Adolescents and Aids".
"It is critical that young people who are HIV-positive have access to treatment, care and support," Craig McClure, the head of Unicef's global HIV/Aids programmes, said in the statement.
"At the same time, those who are HIV-negative must have access to the knowledge and means to help them to stay that way."
According to the UN agency, about half of those living with HIV are in six countries - South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, India, Mozambique and Tanzania.
Aids is the second leading cause of death among adolescents globally.
Most adolescents who die of Aids-related illnesses acquired HIV when they were infants, 10 to 15 years ago, and then survived into their teenage years, sometimes without knowing their HIV status, Unicef said.
In sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the highest prevalence of the virus, girls are "vastly more affected", accounting for 7 in 10 new infections among 15-19 year olds, the agency said.
Among adolescents in that age group in the region, just over 1 in 10are tested for HIV. Since 2000, nearly 1.3 million new infections among children have been averted, largely due to advances in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, Unicef said.