HIV infects 1 teen girl every 3 minutes: UN

Teenage girls are unfairly bearing the brunt of the AIDS crisis, a UNICEF report has found. A lack of information, campaign fatigue, and sexual violence are partly to blame.

One girl between the ages of 15 and 19 becomes infected with HIV every three minutes, according to a UNICEF report published on Wednesday. The organization warned that gender inequality was causing a "crisis of health" for young women.

The data unveiled at the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam showed that teen girls are bearing the brunt of the AIDS epidemic.

"The epidemic's spread among adolescent girls is being fueled by early sex, including with older males, forced sex, powerlessness in negotiating about sex, poverty, and lack of access to confidential counselling and testing services," said the report.

UNICEF chief Henrietta Fore elaborated: "In most countries, women and girls lack access to information, to services, or even just the power to say no to unsafe sex.HIV thrives among the most vulnerable and marginalized, leaving teenage girls at the center of the crisis."

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Charlize Theron: Second-class status of women to blame

Since 2010, AIDS-related deaths have been decreasing for every age group except adolescents from 15 to 19. About 1.2 million teens in this age bracket were living with the virus in 2017, and three out every five were girls.

Activist and actress Charlize Theron highlighted this issue in her speech to the conference, saying that the AIDS crisis was "not just about sex or sexuality," but also about "the second-class status of girls and women worldwide."

The president of the International Aids Society (IAS), Linda-Gail Bekker, also pointed out to French news agency AFP that part of the problem was decreasing awareness about AIDS in recent year.

"Young people have grown up, they are incredibly mobile, they are moving, they have forgotten that HIV is a risk factor... we can't let up on that message, otherwise it just blows up again," she said.

Living and loving with HIV: 10 films that take on AIDS

Prize-winning: '120 BPM'

The drama "120 BPM" is the latest film to take on the illness. Directed by Robin Campillo, the movie tells the love story of two young AIDS activists. It won the Grand Prix jury prize at Cannes last year.

Living and loving with HIV: 10 films that take on AIDS

An early work: 'Longtime Companion' (1989)

Above all, French and American productions took up the subject of HIV and AIDS early on. "Longtime Companion" by Norman René is considered the very first to have described the disease as it tells the stories of eight gay middle-class men who are friends in the early '80s. That's when the illness first appeared and began ravishing the community, the impact of which is at the heart of the film.

Living and loving with HIV: 10 films that take on AIDS

Autobiographical: 'Savage Nights' (1992)

The French director and lead actor in "Savage Nights," Cyrill Collard, likewise takes up the topic of repression of AIDS when he brought his autobiographically influenced novel of the same name to life. In the film version, Collard plays a bisexual who does not take his life or that of his partners into consideration. He died in 1993, just one year after its release.

Living and loving with HIV: 10 films that take on AIDS

Oscar-decorated: 'Philadelphia' (1993)

Jonathan Demme's film "Philadelphia" was the first major Hollywood production that brought AIDS to the big screen for a wide audience. In it, Tom Hanks plays a lawyer who is let go from his job due to his illness. He takes his former employer to court in a melodramatic and sentimental film that is very effectively staged. With the Oscar-winning film, AIDS was finally recognized by Hollywood.

Living and loving with HIV: 10 films that take on AIDS

Semi-documentary: 'And the Band Played On' (1993)

Whereas "Philadelphia" was a true Hollywood production, "And the Band Played On," released that same year, took a quieter, nearly documentary approach to the AIDS epidemic. Starring Matthew Modine as the young AIDS researcher Dr. Don Francis, the film by Roger Spottiswoode attempted to tell the tale of those infected by including numerous stories.

Living and loving with HIV: 10 films that take on AIDS

Controversial: 'Kids' (1995)

Two years later, director Larry Clark put out the teenage drama "Kids," a fictional narrative with a documentary feel. The director highlighted the youth culture in New York in the mid-90s, where sex is on the minds of young boys and girls alike while AIDS lurks in the background. The scenes are drastic and with actors not yet of age, the film created quite a controversy after its release.

Living and loving with HIV: 10 films that take on AIDS

Melodramatic: 'All About My Mother' (1999)

What appears to be a standard Pedro Almodóvar film, "All About My Mother," released by the Spanish director in 1999, takes on the lives, loves and sorrows of a handful of protagonists. Set in Madrid and Barcelona, the melodrama addresses gender roles and society's prejudices, with AIDS playing a central role in the film.

Living and loving with HIV: 10 films that take on AIDS

Looking back: 'The Witnesses' (2007)

"The Witnesses" is French director André Téchiné's look back to the 1980s, when the AIDS crisis first came into focus. The movie follows several characters as it shows the disease and its impact on their lives at all stages. The movie was celebrated at the Berlinale for its handling of the AIDS epidemic but wasn't able to make the leap into German theaters, despite stars like Emmanuelle Béart.

Living and loving with HIV: 10 films that take on AIDS

A global perspective: 'Same Same But Different' (2009)

Germany has likewise tackled AIDS as a film subject. Rosa von Praunheim was the first, with his typically anarchistic approach in "A Virus Knows No Morals" in 1986. In 2009, director Detlef Buck took a more worldly view on the global crisis, with "Same Same But Different," which follows the love story between a young German man (David Kross, seen above) and a Cambodia prostitute.

Living and loving with HIV: 10 films that take on AIDS

An actor's film: 'Dallas Buyers Club' (2014)

"Dallas Buyers Club" by Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallée was widely acclaimed upon its release three years ago. Matthew McConaughey (r.) and Jared Leto are brilliant as two people living with HIV in the 1980s, who are trying to get their hands on the AIDS medications that could prolong their lives. Both actors won nods from the Academy for their roles.

es/rt (AFP, Reuters)

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