The new year ushered in a new health crisis. The emergence of a novel coronavirus infection in Wuhan, Hubei has had devastating consequences for China, with over 2000 deaths and 75,000 infections so far. There are growing concerns about how well any country might be able to respond to this threat, especially countries with weak surveillance systems, poor public health infrastructure and limited health services.
While COVID-19 is disproportionately causing severe disease in older adults, other viruses disproportionately affect adolescents. Thirty years ago, HIV/AIDS swept the globe, largely unchecked. Despite major progress, nearly 1,000 young women are infected with HIV every day – that’s 40 women every hour. Nearly 1 million people died from AIDS-related illnesses last year – that’s more than 2,500 people every day. The good news is that of the estimated 37 million people living with HIV/AIDS, more than 21 million people were estimated to be receiving lifesaving treatment in 2017, a 91% increase from 2012. And in sub-Saharan Africa which bears the brunt of the epidemic, 14.6 million people were receiving lifesaving treatment at the end of 2017, an increase of 90% from 2012.
Later this year, our 12th World Congress will take up the timely theme of ‘Meeting the Challenge of Global Change’. To be held in Lima, Peru from 5-7th November 2020, the World Congress welcomes the diverse constituencies in adolescent health to explore new ideas, the latest research and promising interventions. This is an opportunity to explore specific health conditions (eg sexual and reproductive health including HIV/AIDS and pregnancy, mental health, NCDs, injuries) as well as common health risks and determinants that shape adolescents’ health and wellbeing (eg gender inequality, poverty, migration, violence, stigma, bullying, abuse). The World Congress is a time to be challenged and inspired. It is also a time to meet the people and organizations shaping the field including health practitioners (public health, health promotion, clinicians), researchers, policy makers (eg UN agency staff), NGOs, advocates and young people themselves.