News / Africa

Young HIV/AIDS Activists Demand Respect and Resources

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +
Joe DeCapua

At the 18th International AIDS Conference in Vienna, young people spoke out about how they’re affected by the pandemic and what they’re doing about it.

The speakers - all in their 20s - have never known a world without HIV/AIDS.  The pandemic is 30 years old.  At AIDS 2010, they had a message for those of the older generation: Treat us with respect – and give us the resources and responsibility to make a difference.

“There’s age stigma and discrimination and stereotypes.  What we can call ageism, where adults are saying a young person is too young.  You’re so irresponsible.  You cannot do this,” says Remmy Shawa.

Remmy Shawa
Remmy Shawa

Shawa is part of a U.N. youth program and who started a men and gender program at the University of Zambia. He says the HIV/AIDS youth movement poses no threat to the establishment.

“We should not think of this movement as a way of taking over from the established leaders and abolishing everything that they’re doing.  I think it’s a partnership we are fighting for.  That we should learn from adults and established leaders and they should learn from us as well.  So that we can implement.  We can plan.  We can deliver together.”

Don’t judge us

Chantale Kallas of Lebanon says young people need mentors and counselors who are non-judgmental.

“I’ve been working with young people who use drugs.  And I have seen people working with them with the judgment and the stereotype in their head the whole time.  This is not human rights based,” she says.

Chantale Kallas
Chantale Kallas

Kallas is regional coordinator for the group Youth Rise.  She says often, before young people get involved in large treatment or prevention programs, they simply need the basics.

“At the end of the day,” she says, “what these young people are asking for is sometimes only food and shelter.  So we should be able to give them these resources before starting to talk about more things and more complicated resources.”

Catlin Chandler of the United States is coordinator of the HIV Youth Leaders Fund.  She says 40 percent of new HIV infections occur among young people.  But she says donors often don’t have a clear strategy of how to deal with it.

“Often, we see that donors allocate large amounts of money, especially in HIV prevention, to what they think is a sexy, multi-media way of reaching young people.  I’m talking about campaigns like LoveLife in South Africa.  There’s a new one every day,” she says.

Caitlin Chandler
Caitlin Chandler

She adds, “Most of these campaigns never reach the young people who are most in need of prevention services and information.  If diverse youth populations were actually involved in the development of HIV prevention campaigns, imagine how different the results could be.”

What, no tweets?

Chandler outlines what youth need to succeed.

"Donors need to realize that young people need more than Twitter campaigns and social media sites to live healthy lives.  They need access to clean needles.  They need sexual and reproductive health services that are nondiscriminatory.  They need protection from police.  They need the space in which to make informed choices.  And they also need funding to advocate for their own needs,” she says.

Sydney Hushie of Ghana says while youth are demanding more responsibility and resources, they must also be willing to be accountable for their actions.

Sydney Hushie
Sydney Hushie

“If we as young people demand accountability from adults, our government and all the other people that we look up to, we should first look at being accountable to ourselves as young people – and also to the constituency that gave us the legitimacy that we have as young people to do what we do,” he says.  Hushie is program coordinator for the Global Youth Coalition on HIV and AIDS in Accra.

You May Like

Multimedia Parents of Disaster Ferry Passengers Lash Out at Authorities

Twenty-nine bodies recovered from water but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid