Feature story

UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador HRH Mette-Marit of Norway supports youth event ahead of High Level Meeting on AIDS

07 June 2011

An event convened by young people in New York ahead of the UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS was attended by UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador Her Royal Highness (HRH) Crown Princess Mette-Marit. Credit: NORWAY UN

An event convened by young people in New York ahead of the UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS was attended by UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador Her Royal Highness (HRH) Crown Princess Mette-Marit.

The youth summit on 7 June was co-organized by some of the largest youth-led networks working on AIDS including the Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS and Youth R.I.S.E; together with the International Planned Parenthood Federation together with UNAIDS.

Young people are increasingly using condoms, delaying sexual debut and having fewer sexual partners, leading the HIV prevention revolution in many high prevalence countries. In South Africa, for example, the rate of new HIV infections fell by more than 35 % between 2001 and 2009—among women aged 15-24 new HIV infections declined sharply from 5.5% to 2.2% between 2003 and 2005.

Speaking at the event, HRH Mette-Marit said, “Despite the immense progress on scaling up the global AIDS response, great challenges remain. Young people are particularly vulnerable to HIV infection and they must have access to information and services to help them protect themselves against HIV.”

We need to unleash the full power and potential of young people to lead the global AIDS response. We can do that by engaging them as equal and empowered partners

Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mette-Marit, UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador

HRH Mette-Marit is a long-time champion of youth leadership. “We need to unleash the full power and potential of young people to lead the global AIDS response. We can do that by engaging them as equal and empowered partners,” she said.

There are an estimated five million young people living with HIV, and 3 000 become newly infected daily. However, according to the most recent population-based surveys in low- and middle-income countries, only 24% of young women and 36% of young men responded correctly when asked five questions on HIV prevention and misconceptions around HIV transmission.

Building on the momentum generated at two events earlier in 2011—the Global Youth Summit on HIV in Mali in April, and the High Level Commission on HIV Prevention in South Africa in May—the Youth Summit was a forum for young leaders to come together and gain an understanding of the General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS and the expected outcome Declaration of Commitment.

An advocacy strategy was developed by the more than 50 youth activists during the pre-youth summit to ensure that issues that are important to the youth networks are adequately covered in the forthcoming High Level Meeting on AIDS.

With this pre-youth summit we want to create a strategy to follow up the resolution to hold our governments accountable so that the commitments that are made here are really going to happen in our communities

Pablo Aguilera, Dance for Life International

“Being here [at the High Level Meeting] is important. Not just talking about wanting to be involved but really being involved,” said Pablo Aguilera, Dance for Life International. “With this pre-youth summit we want to create a strategy to follow up the resolution to hold our governments accountable so that the commitments that are made here are really going to happen in our communities.”

The summit also produced a roadmap of follow-up activities to ensure that political leaders are held accountable to their declaration following the High Level Meeting on AIDS.

UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS

Thirty years into the AIDS epidemic, and 10 years since the landmark UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS, the world has come together to review progress and chart the future course of the global AIDS response at the 2011 UN General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS from 8–10 June 2011 in New York. Member States are expected to adopt a new Declaration that will reaffirm current commitments and commit to actions to guide and sustain the global AIDS response.