Youth HIV activists gathered together in New Delhi
Youth activists from around the world call for comprehensive sexuality education and better HIV, sexual and reproductive health and rights services tailored to the needs of adolescents and young people. The activists came together at the ACT!2015 Global Youth Summit, 19 to 21 October 2016 in New Delhi, India from Algeria, Bulgaria, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Adolescents aged 10-19 years and young people aged 15-24 are among the groups most affected by HIV globally. However, they continue to face tremendous barriers to access services that are youth-friendly and targeted to meet their needs.
Anupriya Patel, Minister of State, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India opened the summit stressing the need to ensure meaningful engagement of young people in decision-making processes, especially concerning young people’s health. She committed to engage Indian youth in the national HIV response and achievement of the SDGs. Janine Kuriger, Director, Cooperation in India, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation highlighted now was the time to act and ensure that we achieve the youth-related SDGs.
Summit participants agreed that they need to document the challenges youth face in accessing HIV, sexual and reproductive health and rights services. This evidence can be used to develop national youth advocacy campaigns and establish greater accountability frameworks for national governments. National youth alliances can use the frameworks to monitor country progress towards the youth targets and commitments established in the 2016 United Nations Political Declaration on Ending AIDS and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
At the meeting, organized by UNAIDS, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, and The Dove Foundation—an ACT!2015 national partner in India—each country delegation produced a national plan outlining how young people will gather evidence, use it for advocacy at all levels, and to evaluate national progress towards ending AIDS among youth by 2030.
In South Africa the youth alliance plans to make youth and adolescent health service standards accessible and acceptable to young people in three provinces. In Bulgaria, youth networks will ensure that the comprehensive sexuality education law that was recently approved is being implemented at the local level, and that pending quality gaps are addressed. “We will identify those gaps, advocate for the government to strengthen the law, and push for its full implementation,” said Dina Tomas, ACT!2015 national youth alliance member, Bulgaria.
ACT!2015 is a youth-led social action initiative supported by UNAIDS, IPPF and The PACT, financed by the Swiss Government, aimed at strengthening young people’s evidence gathering and data analysis skills to facilitate advocacy and accountability around policies that limit young people’s access to services. ACT!2015 national youth alliances are composed of 12-15 youth-led and youth-serving organizations and networks per country, which work together to advance young people’s access to HIV and sexual and reproductive health, human rights, participation and leadership in the HIV response.