Young people participated in Symposium on Adolescent SRHR and HIV
March 16, 2015
Young people are not meaningfully involved in SRHR and HIV plans and services. This was the overall conclusion during the second Africa Symposium on Adolescent SRHR and HIV that took place in Zambia, in December 2014. STOP AIDS NOW! supported a diverse team of participating young people from various programmes. All agreed that adolescents (10-19) are poorly represented in national plans, and lack of access to youth-friendly services is still a significant barrier. The delegates from around the world concluded that we need to accelerate our actions, make smarter investments, promote better targeting and integration, and invest in strategic information and disaggregation of data.
Also during the conference youth involvement could have been more meaningful. Presentations did not always accurately reflect the situation of young people on the ground, as experienced by the young people supported by STOP AIDS NOW! They would have liked to see more participation of young people in panels and more time for question and answer sessions. Nevertheless, the team members considered their participation very useful, since the conference provided them the opportunity for group work, linking and learning, sharing experiences, and networking with young people from other programmes and countries.
Call to action
Two of the team members, Allen from Uganda and Kelvin from Zimbabwe, took part in the drafting committee committed to the conference’s call to action. They successfully pushed for HIV and AIDS in it. Kelvin: ’I hope that policy makers will listen to what we say as youths.’
’It was my first participation in such a conference. I have met a lot of young people, learned from their experiences, how they work in their country, and I learned that we need to do more to integrate young people into decision making bodies.’ Fabien, Burundi
The STOP AIDS NOW! youth team at the conference consisted of youth advocates with significant experience in regional and international advocacy as well as youth who for the first time did this kind of advocacy work. Team members were young people from the project ‘Strengthening coordination of support for young people living with HIV’ in Uganda and Zimbabwe, the ASK programme, and the ‘Link Up’ programme.
This article appeared in the STOP AIDS NOW! e-news of March 2015, theme: Realities on the ground