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.

Multimedia

Audio
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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid