YCSRR Member Sara Vida Coumans works for dance4life as Advocacy Officer. YCSRR and dance4life are part of The PACT, a collaboration of 25 youth-led and youth-serving organizations, including young people living with HIV and young people from key populations, committed to work together to ensure the health, well-being and human rights of all young people. On behalf of The PACT Sara delivered the following statement at the UNAIDS PCB 34th Meeting addressing Member States on Post-2015.
In high school, I organized HIV awareness days with three other students. Even then, I was fully aware that I could not do this alone and we needed to work as a group to have an impact. As we gear up for the Post-2015 negotiations, we see young people around the world getting organized to have our priorities reflected.
Today, I speak on behalf of The PACT, a collaboration of 25 youth organizations, including young people living with HIV and young people from key populations, committed to work together to ensure the health, well-being and human rights of all young people.
During the 33rd session of the PCB, Pablo Aguilera, a colleague of mine from this coalition, spoke about our commitment to advance sexual and reproductive health rights and HIV in the Post-2015 agenda.
Since then, through our project ACT 2015, over 180 community dialogues were held by young people on every continent. These dialogues allowed young people, including in the most marginalized and vulnerable, to set their advocacy priorities for Post-2015.
As mentioned by UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé yesterday morning, HIV is now the second leading cause of death amongst adolescents aged 10-19 globally, and the number one in Africa.
There are still 2100 new HIV infections among young people every day. The AIDS epidemic is far from over among this age group.
Based on the priorities outlined by young people and the urgency shown by this data, we call upon Member States to include the following recommendations for the goal framework.
First, target 3.3 on ending AIDS should make a specific reference to adolescents and young people. We propose the following language: by 2030 end HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases by guaranteeing equitable, universal, and affordable access to prevention, treatment, care and support for all people across the life course, with a particular focus on adolescents and young people.
Moreover, the community dialogues make clear that to do this, we must address stigma and discrimination. It will be impossible to the end the AIDS epidemic unless we invest in programs that challenge the stigma and discrimination faced by young people living with HIV. Tracking progress towards zero discrimination must be included as an indicator in relation to target 3.3.
Second, to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030, young people in the community dialogues called for transformation of social norms around gender and sexuality so that young people can have access to sexuality education in an environment free from judgment. We call upon member states to formulate a specific target under the health or education goal to ensure access to comprehensive sexuality education. This has been called for over and over again by the youth constituency in the post-2015 consultations.
Third, too often, adolescents and young people living with HIV are looked at as objects of treatment programs rather than as rights holders. All young people have the right to access sexual and reproductive health services and make decisions about our own bodies. We therefore urge Member States to ensure the health goal addresses the political determinants of health, such as age related barriers to HIV testing and other services.
This PCB meeting is very timely as the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development is coming to its final, during the 13th session mid July.
To conclude, in order to close the equity gap in the HIV response, we need:
- A specific reference to the sexual and reproductive health rights of adolescents and young people in the Health Goal;
- A target on Comprehensive Sexuality Education;
- An indicator tracking progress on stigma and discrimination;
- An overall framework that addresses the political and social determinants of health;
- And, finally to ensure equity, we must measure progress on all targets by data disaggregated by sex and age.
As world leaders in the global capital of health diplomacy here in Geneva you are in a position at this PCB to send a strong signal by including references to adolescents and young people in your decision points. We look forward to work with you and are counting on your support in realizing a post-2015 development agenda that delivers social justice for adolescents and young people worldwide.