XVIII International AIDS Conference

Abstract

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YurWorld - acting locally, thinking globally, a regional strategy with marginalized youth in the Caribbean

E. Ramos1, J. Waters2, D.E. Benitez Polanco3, S. Rosario4, J.M. Baltimore5

1Centro de Orientación e Investigación Integral-COIN, Oficial de Proyectos de Jovenes, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 2Centro de Orientación e Investigación Integral-COIN, Project Manager, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 3YurWorld - Youth in the Real World, Education, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 4Centro de Orientación e Investigación Integral-COIN, Executive Director, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 5Alianza Solidaria Contra el SIDA - ASOLSIDA, Coordination, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Issues: Marginalized youth face all the challenges of adolescence, but in addition many suffer from a high degree of isolation and fear because of their social exclusion. This situation, coupled with the failure of society to recognize and support these young people, creates situations where health risk behaviours become likely, particularly those which heighten their risk of HIV infection. In resource-limited settings like the Dominican Republic, investing in prevention with these youth makes a lot of sense; however it involves dismantling an entire social construct that is complex and entrenched.
Description: YurWorld is a GTZ funded youth-led initiative to improve the participation of marginalized youth in the National response in the Dominican Republic; channel additional resources for prevention; and scale-up effective programming to reach these youth.
Lessons learned: Past experience in the Dominican Republic has been one of CBOs working in an isolated and fragmented manner with a particular subgroup of youth (e.g. GLBT youth, drug users, and immigrant youth). More recently through work carried out by YurWorld, a new model has emerged that recognises and builds on the many common issues these populations share and that can more effectively be addressed collectively. Social exclusion in effect becomes a common denominator creating solidarity and a common vision in young people who on the surface appear to share little in common.
Next steps: YurWorld has channelled resources for marginalized youth over 120 times the amount of the initial investment made by the GTZ back-up initiative, which represents a formidable return indeed. It has secured a regional global fund project modeled on its experiences in the Dominican Republic. The challenges ahead are how to maximize the opportunities offered by this regional funding and ensure youth participation at all levels of its design and implementation.


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