Over the last two decades, new HIV infections have fallen by nearly 40%, marking significant development in the effort to eliminate the virus. But a new report by UNICEF warns that children are being left behind in the fight against HIV.

Last year, 320,000 children and adolescents were newly infected, bringing the total number of children living with HIV to 2.8 million, according to the report. The number of new infections among children and young people under the age of 20 last year averaged out to 1 case every 100 seconds.

Published Wednesday, the UNICEF report also revealed that only about half of children worldwide had access to life-saving treatment in 2019. This percentage lags significantly behind coverage for both mothers (85%) and all adults living with HIV (62%). As a result, nearly 110,000 children died of AIDS last year.

“Children are still getting infected at alarming rates, and they are still dying from AIDS,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a press release. “This was even before COVID-19 interrupted vital HIV treatment and prevention services putting countless more lives at risk.”

Around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused supply chain disruptions that have led to shortages in life-saving HIV services. Lockdowns have also made it more difficult for people to get tested and for those infected to show up for lab tests and doctor’s visits.

Even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect countries around the world, it’s crucial for the international community to get health care back on track for children, adolescents, and pregnant women living with and vulnerable to HIV. Ensuring that the next generation of leaders can grow up healthy and live out their potentials is key to ending extreme poverty.

Read the full article about AIDS care during COVID-19 by Kristine Liao at Global Citizen.