UNAIDS unveils global initiative to scale up HIV testing among young people

30 November 2015

ProTest HIV, a global initiative that encourages young people to get tested for HIV, was launched by UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé in Libreville, Gabon, on 28 November. At the event, Mr Sidibé called on young people worldwide to join the movement and get involved in ending the AIDS epidemic.

Young ProTest HIV ambassadors selected by their peers participated in the launch, which was held at an HIV testing site set up at the Gabon marathon. UNAIDS is working with young people on the initiative to spread the word on the importance of HIV testing.

UNAIDS estimates that 17.1 million of the 36.9 million people living with HIV worldwide do not know they have the virus. Getting tested is a crucial first step for people living with HIV to access life-saving antiretroviral therapy.

Mr Sidibé urged young ambassadors to take the lead in Gabon on the first 90 of the UNAIDS 90–90–90 treatment target and to invite their peers to get tested, too. The UNAIDS 90–90–90 treatment target is that, by 2020, 90% of people living with HIV know their HIV status, 90% of people who know their HIV-positive status are accessing antiretroviral treatment and 90% of people on treatment to have suppressed viral loads.

In Gabon, new HIV infections among children, adolescents and young people have largely declined since 2001, but AIDS-related deaths of adolescents have increased. This is partly due to the lack of integrated youth-friendly services and HIV-related stigma and discrimination. Adolescent girls in Gabon are particularly vulnerable—in 2014, 80% of adolescents newly infected with HIV were girls. 


“You have the right to health, to life, to make your own decisions about your sexual and reproductive health, employment and education. Be the generation that ends AIDS. Take control of your own health and protect yourself and those you love.”

Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director

"We fully subscribe to the ProTESTHIV and we are proud that our country has been chosen by UNAIDS to launch this global initiative. Indeed, everyone must know their HIV status."

Celestine Ba Oguewa, Deputy Minister in charge of Health, Gabon

“Getting tested for HIV is not rocket science. You have to know your status, whether it is positive or negative. If it is positive, you must treat yourself and protect others from HIV. If it is negative, continue to protect yourself against HIV and other sexually-transmitted infections.”

Michael Anicet, ProTest HIV Young Ambassador in Gabon