A call for U.S. recognition of National Youth HIV and AIDS Awareness Day

This week, the 19th International AIDS Conference is being held in Washington, DC. Over 20,000 scientists, researchers, activists, and policy makers have gathered in the United States capital to discuss “Turning the Tide Together” and how to create an “AIDS-free generation.”

Among those fighting to end the AIDS epidemic in the United States is Lawrence Stallworth III, a young, HIV-positive activist. Yesterday, Lawrence wrote an amazing blog in the Huffington Post calling for President Barack Obama and members of the US Congress to officially recognize April 10 as National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day.

You can read Lawrence’s blog HERE. 

Tell us what you think: Why are youth critical to achieving an “AIDS-free generation?”

Public Health Institute (PHI) at the International AIDS Conference 2012

Join the Public Health Institute (PHI) at the International AIDS Conference

PHI will be active throughout the IAC.  Please join us, our project teams and our partners at the following events:

PHI/Global Health Fellows Program-II Reception

Monday, July 23, 5:30pm to 7:00pm, GHFP-II Training Room, 1201 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC

Please join staff and fellows from PHI programs around the world for a special reception on the occasion of the International AIDS Conference. Enjoy hors d’oeuvres and refreshments while learning about the diverse and innovative ways in which PHI is tackling the HIV/AIDS epidemic. (RSVP at globalhealth@phi.org)


Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GYCA) Youth Roundtable

Monday, July 23, 8:30am to 10:30am, Busboys and Poets, 1025 5th Street NW, Washington, DC

PHI’s GYCA and the Youth Health and Rights Coalition (YHRC) will be co-hosting an interactive breakfast roundtable for adolescent- and youth-focused coalitions. We hope for this to be an opportunity for participating coalitions to explore opportunities for collaboration and coordination to further promote the health and rights of young people.


What Works for Women and Girls

Sunday, July 22, 11:15am to 1:15pm, Satellite Session Room 7

A Reason to Celebrate: What Works for Women & Girls: Evidence for HIV/AIDS Interventions (SUSA23): Join us to celebrate the launch of the updated, award-winning website What Works for Women & Girls: Evidence for HIV/AIDS Interventions. Come learn about what’s new in what works for women and girls; how others are utilizing the resource and how it can be useful in your work.


Tuesday, July 24, 4:45pm to 5:45pm, Main Stage, Women’s Networking Zone (WNZ)

What Works for Women & Girls: Advocacy Workshop for Gender Sensitive Interventions: This highly interactive, practical workshop invites participants to answer the question:  how do you advocate for an evidence-based, gender-sensitive response to the HIV epidemic in your country? Participants are encouraged to come with data about the epidemic in their country, including who is most at risk and the conditions for women and girls living with HIV. Participants will leave with concrete strategies and tools to more effectively advocate for gender-specific programming and policies in their countries. 


Wednesday, July 25, 7:00am to 8:30am, Mini Room 3

Messages that Matter: Reaching the World’s Women with Effective, Evidence-Based HIV Prevention Strategies (WESA06): This session will promote cross-learning and highlight why prevention strategies for women must be different than those for men, what is working for women within the US and internationally to reduce risk of HIV infection, and how emerging structural and biomedical strategies can play a role in future prevention efforts for women.


Thursday, July 26, 7:00am to 8:30am, Mini Room 1

From Evidence to Programming: Gender and Gender-Based Violence in the HIV and AIDS Response (THSA02): The session will discuss evidence on addressing gender-based violence (GBV) in HIV programming, and review how the evidence is being put into practice through guidelines and programs. It will focus on current challenges, including taking gender interventions to scale, and measuring program impact. This session will complement the US Government session on PEPFAR GBV program guidance by discussing the “why” behind the guidance.


Adolescent Girls’ Advocacy and Leadership Initiative (AGALI)

 Monday, July 23, 12:30pm to 2:30 pm, Poster Exhibition Hall on Level 2

Strengthening global advocacy for adolescent girls: Lessons learned from the Adolescent Girls´ Advocacy and Leadership Initiative”


Coalition for the Advancement of Multipurpose Innovations (CAMI)

 Thursday, July 26, 12:30pm to 2:30pm, Poster Exhibition Hall on Level 2

CAMI and our Initiative for Multipurpose Prevention Technologies (IMPT) partners are presenting a poster entitled “Simultaneous risks, simultaneous protection: the critical path to “multipurpose” prevention products for women.” Dr. Polly Harrison will be at the exhibit to answer questions and provide MPT informational materials.


Thursday, July 26, 6:30pm to 8:30pm, Mini Room 1

The Population Council and CAMI, along with AVAC, CONRAD, USAID, and WHO, are co-convening a satellite session, New Products, New Paradigms: Combination Products for Women.”  Dr. Helen Rees of the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute, South Africa, and Dr. Debra Birnkrant of the U.S. FDA, will co-chair the session.


Wednesday, July 25, 6:30pm to 8:30pm, Session Room 6

The International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) and Women Deliver are holding a satellite session entitled Advancing the Integration of HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health”.


PEPFAR, Youth, and the AIDS Epidemic: A Call for Real Leadership on Prevention

The following was re-posted, with permission, from RH Reality Check. Article originally appeared on April 3, 2012.

BY: Debra Hauser, President, Advocates for Youth

The global HIV and AIDS strategy is at a turning point. We have witnessed dramatic scientific advances in the fight against the pandemic, spurring renewed hope that the end of AIDS is in sight. President Obama and Secretary Clinton recently delivered major speeches announcing new targets and goals for achieving an “AIDS-free generation.” Yet globally, young people continue to account for four in ten new infections and those directing the U.S. effort to combat the epidemic are not taking the bold steps necessary to match the inspiring vision outlined by the President and the Secretary of State.

But rather than building a firewall of prevention around the largest youth generation in the world’s history, the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC) is pursuing a limited, politically-safe approach–based largely on a biomedical approach to prevention–that downplays the sexual health needs and rights of youth throughout the world.

In a newly-released report, Advocates for Youth analyzes youth policies within the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), including its legislative authority, most recent five-year strategy, relevant guidance documents, and all twenty-one currently available PEPFAR country Partnership Frameworks. Our analysis outlines a series of policy recommendations that could help the agency address the real challenges at hand. This first-of-its kind, in-depth analysis assesses PEPFAR policy and programming according to nine youth indicators, including:

  • Requirements that comprehensive sex education, which includes information about abstinence and condoms, be provided for all youth;
  • Emphasis on the meaningful inclusion of youth in the development, implementation and/or evaluation of youth HIV prevention and care strategies;
  • Clear support for the integration of youth-friendly HIV/AIDS and family planning/reproductive health services;
  • Emphasis on specific prevention strategies for young people living with HIV or AIDS;
  • Recommendations for the compilation and reporting of age disaggregated data and statistics;
  • Explicit inclusion of programs and strategies targeting young men who have sex with men, young commercial sex workers and young intravenous drug users;
  • Language that identifies youth as a Most-At-Risk Population;
  • Policies and programs designed to reach at-risk and out-of-school youth; and
  • Policy reforms that improve youth access to sexual health services, including condom availability.

The report finds that the while there are promising advances for youth sexual and reproductive health in PEPFAR’s second phase, progress is being significantly hampered by a siloed, segmented approach to prevention that fails to address the holistic needs of youth or to engage young people themselves as partners in prevention. In addition, the report notes a tepid commitment within OGAC to the rights of young people to the information and education they need to protect their health and lives in the era of AIDS. The report concludes with a set of recommendations for the U.S. Congress, OGAC, and Partner Country governments, to design and implement the bold policy needed to support youth sexual and reproductive health and rights, including promotion of comprehensive sexuality education and youth-friendly, integrated, HIV and family planning services.

While “combination prevention” approaches may be all the rage in Washington these days, a key piece of the prevention puzzle is missing—the health and rights of young people. We all understand that prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT), male circumcision, and treatment as prevention are critical interventions in the global HIV prevention arsenal. However, they represent only a partial picture of prevention—one that focuses entirely on biomedical approaches at the expense of behavioral and structural interventions. We simply cannot afford to take the path of least resistance and promote politically easy biomedical approaches while minimizing attention to more comprehensive strategies that recognize the realities of young people’s sexual lives. The 2,500 young people who are newly-infected with HIV every single day serve witness to the inadequacy of our current approach.

We have to recognize that young people have the right to accurate and complete sexual health information and services; that young people deserve our respect; and that as a leader in the global HIV fight, the U.S. has a responsibility to require that those receiving U.S. funds provide young people with all of the tools they need to safeguard their sexual and reproductive health. Yet, all too often, young people are ignored or caught in the crosshairs of controversy and politics. One of the many costs of this fallout: only 34 percent of young people in low- and middle-income countries (24 percent of young women and 36 percent of young men) can correctly answer the five basic questions about HIV and how to prevent it.

We’ve got to do better than this.

As the host of the International AIDS Conference this July, the United States and Washington, DC, in particular, will be in the spotlight. And thousands of young people will be at the forefront, thanks to efforts of Youth Force, expecting their leaders to not just listen, but to take action to address the health and rights of young people. We must seize this opportunity to promote a truly science-based, holistic, HIV-prevention strategy for young people in the U.S. and abroad. In the end, it is young people who hold the key to ending this epidemic. That’s why they should be at the center, not the periphery, of our programs and policies. The ultimate challenge we face is not money or technology—it’s leadership. And the time to exercise it is now.