News / Health

Youth Want Voice at AIDS 2012

YouthForce is a global youth movement.YouthForce is a global youth movement.
x
YouthForce is a global youth movement.
YouthForce is a global youth movement.
Joe DeCapua
The latest report from UNAIDS says young people between the ages of 15 and 24 account for 40 percent of new adult HIV infections. It also says many are misinformed about prevention and transmission. Despite that, many young people are involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS and they’ll be attending the 19th International AIDS Conference.



Members of a global movement called YouthForce say young people lack access to many of the things that will protect them from HIV. They’re calling on leaders and policymakers to hear what they have to say about AIDS, and include them in decision-making.

Kikelomo Taiwo, a 25-year-old Nigerian woman, volunteers to fight stigma and discrimination in Abuja.

She said, “Anywhere you find people living with HIV, particularly in Nigeria, people stigmatize against them. People discriminate against them. It’s so bad that today in Nigeria compulsory HIV/AIDS testing is a prerequisite to get into the university. And once a university discovers you’re positive they deny you admission. Based on that we decided to come up with a campaign called the HIV/AIDS anti-stigma bill campaign.”

Taiwo criticized a current anti-stigma bill before parliament, saying does not go far enough.

“The bill only focuses on stigma and discrimination in the workplace. The needs of young people are not being considered. Because this government also knows – I want to believe they know – that young people are the most at risk, and the most affected population living with HIV. So we want to have an HIV/AIDS anti-stigma bill, but it doesn’t cover or protect the needs of young people,” she said.

She learned first-hand how vulnerable young people can be when they are uninformed and unprotected.

“Growing up as a child I was abused sexually. My sexual rights were violated. I didn’t get comprehensive sexuality education. I just felt like the people around me didn’t do well in giving me the right information, or the things I needed to become strong in my personality in making decisions. And I just wanted to learn more about sexuality, and also inspire young people to come out of their box and be all that they wanted to be,” she said.

Too often in Nigeria, she said, young people do not have a voice, and that many politicians and family members don’t listen.

“I personally feel like the Nigerian government leaders are just bloody politicians. They just talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, and they never do anything. As a young person who is not married, I don’t have health insurance. Education is so expensive,” she said.

Taiwo added Nigerian youth need help and resources to be healthy and educated.

Jaevion Nelson, a 26-year-old from Jamaica, is also attending AIDS 2012. He’s head of the Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network.

“I realized how important it was to begin to be involved in HIV and AIDS after getting over my fears about HIV and people living with HIV. All that sort of stuff that, you know, young people like myself are often times, because of ignorance, afraid to be involved. And it was a fantastic opportunity, because I realized just how all social issues I was working with over the years really impacted on young people’s sex lives, young people’s sexual reproductive health and young people’s rights,” he said.

He was not surprised by the UNAIDS report on the high-level of HIV infections among young people.

“Despite progress in HIV and AIDS over the world – despite progress in increased funding -- and despite more effective programs – young people’s needs are still underestimated and still largely unmet.  And so it speaks to the level of seriousness that we need to approach HIV and AIDS,” he said.

25-year-old Kathy Wollner is starting her final year of medical school in Chicago. Like her YouthForce colleague Kikelomo Taiwo, she’s focusing on battling stigma.
“I think part of what attracted me to this work is that HIV and AIDS is often an illness that’s very stigmatized and affects communities that can be quite marginalized. And I come from a point of view where I believe that health care is a human right for all people,” she said.

Wollner said social media are powerful tools for spreading the YouthForce message about youth rights and needs.

“It’s very important,” she said, Young people around the world, even if they’re not able to participate closely in YouthForce planning, or if they’re not able to attend the conference themselves, their voice is still heard, and they can still state what they think is most important to be included in the work that YouthForce is representing at the international AIDS conferences.”

During AIDS 2012, YouthForce will issue a Youth Declaration. It’s based on the recommendations of hundreds of young people around the world on how best to end the epidemic.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs