or nearly 30 years, the first day of December has offered an opportunity to unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS and highlight how far we have come. Despite all the advances, girls and young women are still being left behind. That is unacceptable and must change.
Girls and young women are at particular risk for HIV infection. Around the world, nearly 2 million individuals over the age of 14 are infected with HIV every year. One in four of them are girls and young women between the ages of 15 and 24. In sub-Saharan Africa, nearly 60 percent of new HIV infections among young people are in girls and women in that age range.
Why are young women at greater risk? Biology plays a part: They are physiologically more vulnerable to the sexual transmission of HIV than men their own age. But structural barriers such as gender inequality are also a major risk factor.