International Youth Day: Young people are the catalysts of development
12 August 2011
August 2010 to 2011 is designated as International Year of Youth and as the world celebrates International Youth Day on August 12, young people aged 15-24 represent one fifth of the global population. Almost nine out of ten young people live in a low- or middle-income country. Many face challenges brought about by limited access to, among other things, healthcare, education and economic opportunities.
Despite these hurdles, young women and men can play a significant role in lifting themselves, their families and communities out of poverty and protecting their health. Recent data from UNAIDS indicates that HIV prevalence has dropped by more than 25% among young people in 15 out of 21 countries most affected by HIV. While this represents significant progress, universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support for young people has yet to be achieved.
“A significant step forward was taken in June 2011 when UN Member States adopted the Political Declaration on HIV and committed to harnessing the energy of young people to lead global HIV awareness,” said UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé. “Young people are choosing to have sex later, have fewer partners and are increasingly using condoms. In other words, young people are leading the world in bringing about an HIV prevention revolution.”
Young people are choosing to have sex later, have fewer partners and are increasingly using condoms. In other words, young people are leading the world in bringing about an HIV prevention revolution
Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director
To mark the International Year of Youth, UNAIDS and partners launched on the report entitled Securing the Future Today at the end of July. The report highlights that young people account for 41% of all new HIV infections among adults with 3 000 young people becoming newly infected with HIV each day, and 4.9 million young women and men were living with HIV worldwide in 2009. In addition, in low- and middle-income countries, only 24% of young women and 36% of young men have comprehensive knowledge of HIV. In many countries, condom use still remains low, especially among young women.
Empowering young people to protect themselves against HIV requires more support to amplify the movement, led by and for young people, that is demanding rights-based, evidence informed sexual and reproductive health services including sexuality education. Social networking sites and mobile applications can be leveraged to design innovative behavior change strategies and provide new ways of organizing movements and access to information and services.
UNAIDS is currently developing a strategy on how to work more effectively with young leaders to reach UNAIDS’ vision of zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.
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