India ranks third in HIV epidemic in the world with an estimated prevalence of 0.3% ( 2013) i.e. 2.1 million people living with HIV. There is some reason to rejoice as 38% decline in AIDS-related deaths was observed between 2005 and 2013. Over 35% of all reported AIDS cases in India occur among age group of 15–24 years indicating that adolescents and young adults constitute a major group at risk of the infection.
Adolescence is a transition from childhood to adulthood and marks a very crucial phase in life cycle (occurring between 13-19 years). During this phase, there are several physical changes such as accelerated growth as well as psychological and behavioral changes.
- One important growth marker is sexual maturity that often changes the adolescent’s social interaction, expectations and perceptions. It’s the time of increased sense of self-awareness making them more vulnerable .
- Also , sexual debut, sexual coercion and violence, trafficking, and substance abuse are highlights of this phase
- Lack of knowledge about HIV/AIDS, inaccessibility to healthcare services and commodities, lack of education and life skills, and early marriage increase the vulnerability of adolescents to HIV/AIDS
Adolescents constitute a considerable proportion of India’s population (22%) and increased knowledge about mode of transmission of the disease and its profuse health implications can pave the way for prevention.
“Adolescent HIV/AIDS is an epidemic with difference and its control needs to be adolescent specific.”
Dr Pooja Chhawcharia is the Senior Nutritionist at eKincare with over 7 years of experience in Nutrition education, diet counseling and research. She is a Registered Dietician with the Indian Dietetic Association and Certified Diabetes Educator recognized by the International Diabetes federation . She is also interested in ancillary sciences such as Yoga and Naturopathy.