XVIII International AIDS Conference

Abstract

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Success in youth-led advocacy: progress in supporting comprehensive, positive approaches to HIV prevention for youth in Ethiopia, Jamaica, Nigeria, and the United States

M. Melles

Advocates for Youth, Washington, United States

Issues: While HIV prevalence rates in some countries are showing signs of stabilizing, the fact that young people still constitute almost half of all new HIV infections demonstrates that more needs to be done. Political will is still lacking to scale up evidence-based prevention programs for youth and to include young people in program and policy design, implementation, and evaluation.
Description: Advocates for Youth works in partnership with youth-led NGOs in Ethiopia, Jamaica, and Nigeria to support youth activist leadership councils in each country. These councils are comprised of eight to ten young people ages 18 to 24, dedicated to advocating for programs and policies that will improve youth sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) nationally and internationally. Members of the councils in Ethiopia, Jamaica and Nigeria exchange strategies south-to-south and with a comparable council working to influence U.S. global HIV policy in the United States. All councils are further linked to other youth activists in low- and middle-income countries through the International Youth Activist Network and a youth activist website, amplify.
Lessons learned: In Ethiopia, Jamaica, and Nigeria, the youth councils have succeeded in:
  • Securing a commitment from the Minister of Health of Nigeria for a budgetary allocation for youth SRHR programs in the 2010 national budget;
  • Securing the establishment of a National Youth Federation with committees of youth representatives seated under the Ethiopian Prime Minister;
  • Establishment of a referral system on university campuses in Jamaica, launched by the Ministry of Education that expands access to reproductive health services for youth.
  • Contributing to improvements in the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.
Next steps: Advocates and its partners will continue to support the advocacy efforts of the councils through training, information sharing, and leveraging of new media within country, south-to-south, and globally.


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