At a time when the global community is focusing its attention on defining the development agenda for the next 15 years, the Joint United Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) is working to update its 5-year strategy (2016-2021) and strengthen the “Fast Track” response to end the AIDS epidemic. This presents an important opportunity for young people to influence this process!
HIV/AIDS continues to take the lives of young people all around the world. It is the second leading cause of death for adolescents worldwide, and the first for adolescents in Africa. With the lives of promising young people being lost, this is not something that can simply be overlooked
Infection rates and deaths related to HIV/AIDS continue to decrease for all age groups with the exception of adolescents; especially key affected populations including men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender people, people who inject drugs, people who are incarcerated, sex workers, people with disabilities and other marginalized groups that continue to be left behind in the HIV/AIDS response. This upcoming strategy aims “to focus resources and accelerate rights-based, evidence-informed action where it is needed the most”. This is our chance to speak up and voice the need for resources and action around an inclusive youth-centred HIV/AIDS response.
In order to reach adolescents and youth, especially from young key populations, we as young people need to first make sure our voices are heard loud and clear in the decision making spaces, and that our special needs are addressed from a rights-based approach. The response will not achieve its goal of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic if sexual and reproductive rights are not recognized, respected and actively promoted.
UNAIDS is hosting several consultations with different stakeholders, including civil society organizations, in order to be democratic and participative in its process of updating its 5-year strategy. Most importantly, UNAIDS is committed to the meaningful engagement of young people in these processes. And this is why, together with the PACT (a network of youth organizations, of which the YCSRR is part of), we are organizing a separate discussion forum focusing on the participation and priorities of youth in the HIV/AIDS response.
It is time to have your voice heard in a space that is safe for young people! In order to end the AIDS epidemic and Get to Zero, we need the voices of young people to be included. This is our chance to make make a difference.
Please go to www.unaidsstrategy2021.org to add your input to the discussion and to learn more about the youth forum! The deadline for virtual consultation is Thursday, April 2nd, 2015.
Also, you can visit www.youthpact.org/blog to see more young peoples’ blogs on this topic.
If you prefer to submit your comments to UNAIDS confidentially, please send them directly to: firstname.lastname@example.org.