Taking Root, Branching Out: The development of young key population-led organisations in the Asia-Pacific region.
Author: Youth LEAD
Youth LEAD Launches Report Highlighting the Tenacity and Hard-Work of YKP-led Organizations
Young key population-led organizations continue to grow and develop as instrumental actors in the response to HIV in the Asia-Pacific region.
BANGKOK, Thailand – May 23, 2017 – YouthLEAD launches “Taking Root, Branching Out” an engaging report on the development of young key population-led organisations in the Asia-Pacific region.
Focusing on the development of YouthLEAD partners, Fokus Muda in Indonesia, Vectoring in China, Youth LEAD Cambodia and YKP LEAD Nepal these case studies capture the triumphs and struggles of four unique organizations.
In observing the lessons learned and identifying common elements amongst these organizations, this report produces important recommendations for donors and stakeholder keen to engage with young key populations (YKP) and support a comprehensive response to HIV.
“With great support from Robert Carr Network Funds, Youth LEAD paves the ways to embrace all young key populations constituencies to engage the human rights and youth movement across the region and countries. In Indonesia, Nepal, China, Cambodia and other supported countries, Youth LEAD country teams explore vitality of youth voice in the regime of HIV/AIDS response and beyond. Nowadays, Youth LEAD stands out to reflect the trend of sustainable development and open society for all.”
Zhang Nanjie – Board Chair of Youth LEAD
The recommendations reflect the roots, history and progress of this network of YKP organizations and tackle a broad range of issue areas for both donors and stakeholders, and the YKP-led organizations themselves. Recommendations include ensuring the meaningful involvement of YKP at all levels of policy and decision-making for which they are impacted, establishing core funding and fiscal support and continuing to build connections with the goal of growing networks, to name a few. These recommendations provide key branches for a path forward for these organizations.
This report bears witness to the power and successful contributions of young people in creating change for themselves and their communities. YKP-led organizations are critical in advancing a comprehensive response to HIV, but they continue to require technical and financial support.
(Is) Global Fund accelerating their works for Adolescence and Young People (?) - an observation perspective from the 37th Global Fund Board meeting
by Setia Perdana, Youth LEAD
While young people make up only 16% of the global population, we represent 34% of people acquiring HIV each year (1). In sub-Saharan Africa, which is home to more than 70% of the world’s young people living with HIV, young women and girls is on average 3 times higher compared to their male peers. (2)
Adolescents are also particularly affected. In 2015, there were around 250,000 new HIV infections among adolescents aged 10-19 – almost one every two minutes. At a time when AIDS-related deaths are declining rapidly in other age groups, AIDS-related deaths among adolescents (aged 15–19 years) are not declining, particularly in Asia and the Pacific.
The opportunities to address these issues are critical in every HIV strategic investment. Global Fund, one of the largest financing institutions has evolved in responding the HIV epidemic in these younger populations. During the last Global Fund 37th board meeting, the Community, Rights and Gender (CRG) Department had published their annual report where their commitments for adolescent girls and young women was greater than before.
In line with the new Global Fund strategy 2017-2022 the specific Key Performance Indicator to measure HIV incidence reduction among adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) aged 15-24 (KPI 8) has been developed and adopted by the board. Around $55 million are allocated to scale-up HIV programming for adolescent girls and young women in 13 focus countries in southern and eastern Africa from The Catalytic Funding stream. Similarly, the Strategies to Advance Gender Equality (SAGE) initiative has improved the strategic information system within the secretariat to have sex and age disaggregation into the their data systems, and development of baseline data and regular reporting mechanisms.
The meaningful young people participation is also one of the areas that will be improved. Global Fund has developed a roadmap to increase the adolescent girls and young women participation in the 13 focus countries in southern and eastern Africa with $500,000 allocation support from the CRG Strategic Initiative.
The above-mentioned approaches are the existing efforts from the Global Fund in filling the gap of the epidemic among younger populations. However, the discussions of existing and further approaches for adolescent and young key populations are not strongly addressed yet, Global Fund needs to take step forward to ensure participation and programmatic allocation for adolescent and young key population in the concentrated epidemic countries. The Catalytic Funding on adolescents girls and young women needs to be expanded in other region where death rates of adolescents are rocketing- like Asia and the Pacific. Young Key Affected Women and Girls should be the main focus. The Global Fund also needs to do the further analysis of how much money has been invested exclusively on young people in their entire programs.
1 UNAIDS Estimates
2 Population-based surveys
Today is International Transgender Day of Visibility, a day which brings attention to the global oppression of transgender people and our increased risk of abuse, violence, and discrimination. This blog is written by Renae Green, member of ACT! 2030 Jamaica. Renae is a 25 year old human and Trans rights advocate currently working as a volunteer with the Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network (JYAN), an organization that advocates for the Sexual and Reproductive health rights (SRHR) of Jamaican youth.
Transgender people are among the most marginalized people in our society. We often encounter serious difficulties accessing housing, health care, and employment. We frequently do not receive adequate protection under the law, and often face extreme violence and sometimes death. Systematic marginalization contributes to high rates of suicide and HIV as well. Statistics show that Trans women are 49 times more likely to acquire HIV than the general population. 41% of Trans people have attempted suicide.
Violence is motivated by person’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. This shows the level of homophobia and transphobia that exists within Jamaican society. Transgender individuals lack access in Jamaica to hormonal and surgical treatments for transition process causing many to seek alternative methods without the aid of trained professionals. Stigma and discrimination also act as a deterrent for Trans persons accessing health care: confidentiality issues, as well as fear of losing their lives, mean that many members of the Trans community do not access sexual and reproductive health services.
If things are to improve we need to modify existing laws and legislations so as to remove legal and policy barriers such as the non-recognition of the identities of Trans persons, and laws justifying transphobic violence. This will support Trans persons living in Jamaica fully participating in all areas of public life which would also be in up keeping with the SDG goals, specifically goals 5 and 10 which speak about gender equality and reduced inequalities, as well as goal 3 which has a target on ensuring universal sexual and reproductive health services and ending AIDS by 2030.
It is also important to provide young people with comprehensive sexuality education that teaches about human rights, identity, and gender equality, as a way of promoting inclusivity and preventing violence and abuse. We also need to train health care providers to deliver stigma-free services to ensure that Trans people are able to access the health care services we need.
Visibility is crucial in the fight against inequality. If we don’t take a public stand, then nothing will change. People of Trans experience and allies need to speak up for Trans rights and continue pushing for justice and equality for all.
(This blog is a repost from the Act!2030 weblog in observance of the International Day of Trans Visibility. You may visit the original post here.)
By Ricardo Baruch
More than 30 young activists from all over the world participated in the High Level Meeting on Ending AIDS that took place in New York. During 3 days (and some weeks before that), young people participated in negotiations, panels and meetings in order to share their experiences and demands.
The High Level Meeting started with the adoption of the Political Declaration that was negotiated in the previous weeks by UN member states and some CSOs. Many representatives of civil society were very disappointed that there were no opportunities to improve the language related to key populations, harm reduction, comprehensive sexuality education and other important issues that are key for the response to the epidemic and that are also controversial for some conservative governments. Some of the relevant language is included at the end of this document.
Even though young people were present at the HLM, in the sessions of 2006 and 2011 there were certainly more. In general, there was less participation from civil society. Loyce Maturu from Zimbabwe, L’Orangelis Thomas from Puerto Rico, Ian Royer from Trinidad & Tobago, Jeff Acaba from Philippines and other young activists were speakers in different events but there were only a few opportunities for young activists to express their opinions. There were two youth-related events: one was organized by UNAIDS Brazil and the other was convened by Dutch NGOs with the participation of some PACT members including Annah Sango, Tania Martinez, Niluka Perera and Carlo Oliveras. Other PACT members present at the HLM included Oliver Anene, Michalina Drejza and Ruben Pages from UNAIDS.
The day before the HLM, approximately 25 young people participated in the Youth Pre-meeting where some strategies were developed and people had the chance to network and update each other about what was happening at that moment, when there was uncertainty about whether or not the Declaration would be open for negotiations.
The HLM comprised speeches from Ministers of Health, HIV program directors and other high level officials at the Plenary of the General Assembly, but there were also thematic panels and many side events organized by governments and CSOs. There were some important announcements in the context of the HLM such as a large investment from PEPFAR for key populations and also, the launch of the new WHO treatment guidelines.
If you want to read the Political Declaration, see the attached document. Some relevant language that was included for youth is the following:
Concrete targets (2020) on new infections and treatment (65, a-d), including adolescents and young people, and regional focus
65 (a) – 75% reduction of new infections among young people as part of 15+
65 (b) – 95% reduction of new infections among adolescents 10-14, as part of children and young adolescents
65 (c) – Increase to 81% number of young people and adults on treatment, as part of 15+. Same target for children and adolescents 10-14
Specific commitment with young women (15-24) (61 f): globally each year to below 100,000 by 2020
Relevant paragraphs for young people:
62 (c): Commit to accelerate efforts to scale up scientifically accurate age-appropriate comprehensive education, relevant to cultural contexts, that provides adolescent girls and boys and young women and men, in and out of school, consistent with their evolving capacities, with information on sexual and reproductive health and HIV prevention, gender equality and women’s empowerment, human rights, physical, psychological and pubertal development and power in relationships between women and men, to enable them to build self-esteem, informed decision-making, communication and risk reduction skills and develop respectful relationships, in full partnership with young persons, parents, legal guardians, caregivers, educators and health-care providers, in order to enable them to protect themselves from HIV infection;
62 (j): Commit to eliminate barriers, including stigma and discrimination in health-care settings, to ensure universal access to comprehensive HIV diagnostic, prevention, treatment, care and support for people living with, at risk of, and affected by HIV, persons deprived of their liberty, indigenous people, children, adolescents, young people, women, and other vulnerable populations;
63 (b): Commit to strengthen measures at the international, regional, national, and local and community levels to prevent crimes and violence against, and victimization of, people living with, at risk of, and affected by HIV
(…) review and reform, as needed, legislation that may create barriers or reinforce stigma and discrimination, such as, age of consent laws, laws related to HIV non-disclosure, exposure and transmission, policy provisions and guidelines that restrict access to services among adolescents.
By Ricardo Baruch (The PACT) and Murtaza Majeed (Youth RISE)
Two very important meetings are scheduled in 2016: the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on Drugs and the High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS. Both will take place in April and June consequently in New York. All Member States will discuss what should be done at the global level in order to deal with issues around drug use, drug markets, drug control among others.
The drug control models and conventions came into play in an era where homosexuality was considered a “sickness”, abortion was a “crime”, and from history we know how stigmatizing and marginalizing communities have affected homosexual populations; but, thanks to persistent advocacy and activism, most governments accepted the fact and the health risks decreased among them. Alas, drug use is still stigmatized, people who use drugs are still marginalized groups, and data clearly indicates that the morbidity rate of drug users due to current repressive policies and health care is very high.
But why is it important for stakeholders working on HIV issues? HIV epidemics in most regions have started from people who inject drugs. Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Southeast Asia are regions with high rates of HIV among drug users. For example in Asian countries, it is estimated that 16% of people who inject drugs are living with HIV. In Irkutsk, Russia 64,5% of injecting street drug users were living HIV. Other regions like North America, South America and Western Europe also have a strong problem with injected drugs and its relation with HIV and hepatitis transmission. Drug use is an issue faced by other key populations such as sex workers, transgender women and men who have sex with men. Therefore reluctance towards drug use can affect all mentioned populations, and has already led to social and health harms due to lack of services including HIV testing, counselling, treatment, care and support.
UN agencies such as World Health Organization and UNAIDS have recommended harm reduction as an evidence-based approach for HIV prevention for many years; nevertheless, lack of coordination among the UN itself has made it challenging for agreed common language on harm reduction support. Many Member States are reluctant to implement life-saving public health interventions. Communities of people who use drugs have low or no access to essential HIV prevention tools such as needle and syringe exchange. As a consequence, children, youth, women and other drug users could not have the essential human rights which are access to health. Young people also face barriers to access youth friendly harm reduction services, including age of consent laws.
Lack of harm reduction services at the grass roots level has deeply damaged our society. It has created stigma and discrimination. Lack of support and stigmatization has led drug users to stop believing in services and have made them reluctant to talk about their drug issues. United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) acknowledges very little changes in the overall global situation of production, use and health consequences of illicit drugs. For this reason, the General Assembly’s Special Session should bring a new step towards the drug problems of people who use drugs. We cannot afford to lose time and lives because another important meeting of the member states fails to act.
It is important for the HIV community, advocates and stakeholder to push their governments to take on more progressive positions regarding drugs and especially harm reduction, in order to improve public health and respect the human rights of people who use drugs. From the vantage of human rights, access to the highest quality of health care – as well as from the point of view of politicians making decisions on behalf of the best interest of the society – harm reduction is a key element to be discussed and accepted for HIV preventions among people who use drugs. In order to protect our societies, Member States, UN agencies and other stakeholders should support harm reduction and decriminalization of drug use.
In order to protect our societies, Member States, UN agencies and other stakeholders should support harm reduction and young people’s access to youth friendly services leading up to UNGASS in the next few months – this will feed into processes to ensure we secure similar language in the High Level Meeting Declaration in June.
The Global Youth Survey “Help shape the future condom promotion agenda” on condom programming among youth civil society organizations
The Global Youth Survey and the analytical report as an outcome, has been conducted as appointed by the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), in collaboration with UN Population Fund (UNFPA), United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the PACT.
It aims to map youth organizations involved in condompromotion and distribution, as well as to identify ways of strengthening the condom promotion and distribution among youth organizations, but most important to ensure the next generation condom agenda is informed by the perspectives of young people on the ground implanting condom programmes.
The Survey was conducted in the period 12th till 24th of October, 2014. Given the time frame for the project, the outreach strategy was crucial to reach many youth organizations working in condom promotion as possible.
In total, 244 organizational responses from 7 geographical regions (categorized according to UNAIDS regions) worldwide (Eastern and Southern Africa, West and Central Africa, Asia and Pacific, Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Latin America, Middle East and North Africa) have been received. While the sample is not representative, the data is drawn from e respondents from virtually all regions of the world.
Finally the report shows good practices from the regions and it shows specific recommendation towards more effective condom programming especially among the most at risk young people and adolescents.
The 2016 High Level Meeting on HIV: why should young people care? / La Reunión de Alto Nivel sobre VIH: ¿por qué debería interesarle a los jóvenes?
By Ricardo Baruch and Lindsay Menard-Freeman
For the fourth time in history, the 71st Session of the General Assembly of the UN will put AIDS on the table and discuss what is needed in order to respond in a better way to one of the most terrible epidemics in history.
Adolescents and young people are one of the most affected groups by HIV globally, but there are many governments that have not yet recognized their needs and their rights. Several countries still deny the right to sexuality education, access free condoms, or even to recognize the basic human right to life of LGBT people.
In 2001, the General Assembly of the UN had a Special Session about HIV called UNGASS (or the United Nations General Assembly Special Session). That was the first time that a single health issue was being discussed at the maximum level of decision-making of the United Nations, due to the emergency that AIDS represented at that point.
As a result of that meeting, the Declaration of Commitment (DoC) was created in order to guide the global strategies that determined the global HIV response. Another result of that meeting was the creation of The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. In 2006 and 2011 there were subsequent High Level Meetings in New York to revisit the situation and 2 other key documents were created: the Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS 2006 and 2011.
Unfortunately, despite those commitments, countries are still facing a huge number of challenges in their response to the HIV epidemic among young people. In some places, particularly in Africa, the number of new HIV infections among people 15 to 24 have decreased but in most parts of the world, the epidemic is still affecting adolescents and youth, particularly young people from key populations including men who have sex with men, sex workers, drug users and transgender people.
Another key event that will take place this year is the UN High Level Meeting on Drugs. This meeting is also relevant for the global response to AIDS because the fastest growing HIV epidemic in the world is the one concentrated among injected drug users, especially in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Asia-Pacific. If you think discussions around HIV are difficult at the UN level, discussions around drugs are even more heated because there is no consensus around the world about what is needed from a public health perspective.
So, as you can see, 2016 will be an important year for UN meetings on HIV. Soon, we will share with you some tools that you can use in order to get involved because young people’s voices need to be heard.
Por cuarta vez en la historia, este año la Asamblea General de la ONU pondrá en la mesa de discusión el tema del SIDA y qué se necesita para mejorar la respuesta global a una de las epidemias más terribles de la historia.
Las y los adolescentes y jóvenes son uno de los grupos más afectados por la epidemia del VIH, pero muchos gobiernos siguen sin reconocer sus necesidades y derechos. Existen países donde se les niega la posibilidad de recibir educación sexual, el acceso a condones gratuitos e incluso se prohíbe la posibilidad de tener sexo con otra persona del mismo género.
En el 2001, la Asamblea General de la ONU tuvo una Sesión Especial, llamada regularmente UNGASS. Esa fue la primera ocasión en que un solo asunto de salud estaba siendo discutido en el máximo nivel de toma de decisiones de las Naciones Unidas, debido a la emergencia que representaba el SIDA en esos momentos.
Como resultado de esa reunión, se creó la Declaración de Compromisos (DoC) para guiar las estrategias globales para responder a la epidemia del VIH. Otro resultado de ese encuentro, fue la creación del Fondo Mundial. En 2006 y 2011 hubo otras dos reuniones de Alto Nivel en Nueva York para revisar la situación y crear otros dos documentos: Las Declaraciones Políticas en VIH.
Desafortunadamente, a pesar de esos compromisos, muchos países siguen enfrentando muchos retos para responder a la epidemia del VIH entre jóvenes. En algunos lugares, particularmente en África, el número de nuevas infecciones entre personas de 15 a 24 años ha disminuido pero en otras partes del mundo, la epidemia aún afecta demasiado a adolescentes y jóvenes. Particularmente a aquellos que pertenecen a poblaciones clave como los hombres que tienen sexo con hombres, las trabajadoras sexuales, los usuarios de drogas y las mujeres trans.
Otro evento clave que se llevará a cabo este año es la Reunión de Alto Nivel de la ONU sobre Drogas. Este encuentro es importante para la respuesta al VIH porque la epidemia de VIH que está creciendo más rápido es la de usuarios de drogas inyectadas, especialmente en Europa del Este, Asia Central y Asia/Pacífico. Si crees que las discusiones de VIH son difíciles, las de drogas son incluso más acaloradas porque no hay consenso en el mundo sobre qué se necesita hacer desde una perspectiva de salud pública.
Como puedes leer, el 2016 será un año importante para reuniones de la ONU en VIH. Muy pronto te compartiremos algunas herramientas que puedes usar para involucrarte para que las voces de jóvenes sean escuchadas.
by Daniel Tobon Garcia (Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights)
Two year have passed since different youth-led and youth-serving organizations working on HIV and SRHR, with a focus on youth, came together in Tunisia under the lead of the UNAIDS youth team. The PACT was formed as a network within the HIV, SRHR and youth movement that are capable of working together and with adult and institutional allies to put an end to the AIDS epidemic and to ensure all Young people can excercise their sexual and reproductive rights.
The last August 10-12, The PACT met in Bangkok, Thailand for its Annual Strategy Meeting. Representatives of the organizations with leadership positions within The PACT, two more representatives of The PACT organizations, the UNAIDS youth officer, and key partners got to see their faces and discuss important issues about the coalition after a year of hard work: the progress thus far, the successes and failures, the way of working, and next steps, among other topics.
The meeting started with the never missed excercises for introductions and ice-breakers but immediately got into business with an introductory session to review the coalition’s mandate and objectives, its structure and way of working. As expected, the action plans of the five different working streams of The PACT were reviewed in detail, which allowed a space to debate in depth the successes and failures, the challenges, concerns, spaces for improvement and next stepts – A summary of these discussions is provided below.
Finally, participants debated about actions that need to be taken to ensure The PACT can fulfill its mandate and be more effective and inclusive. A review of the membership and the proceedings regarding current and aspiring members, will be conducted with the aim of opening a call for new members. Additionally, participants agreed on some action points to improve the way of working of the coalition.
On the last day of the meeting, UNAIDS’s regional youth team joined the meeting and discussions were centered both on how the regional team can suppor the work of The PACT and how The PACT can support the regional team. This, considering that the five strategic goals of The PACT can well be harmonized with the plans of the regional youth team and the activities that they need to execute. Some of the key conclusions from the discussions is that regional youth focal points of UNAIDS need to cooperate with PACT organizations from different regions to create and/or strengthen regional networks of youth organizations in the movement. This will work both ways and will in turn impact positively the youth SRHR movement. Additionally, The PACT is looking into opening soon a call for new members. So, stay tuned because we are eager for new faces!
Some of the compromises for next steps of each working stream are:
Y-PEER will welcome IPPF as co-leads in Goal No. 2. The action plan will be revisited and another call for new members will be made. Co-leads will focus on coordinating actions to integrate HIV into SRH services trying to now go beyond the great work made in relation to CSE.
Y+, lead of Goal No. 1. Will revisit the action plan to ensure that all the activities the members have executed and the processes they are involved in are reflected in the action plan.
Additionallly, a call for new members will be sent out and more attention will be put on improving the communications with the rest of the membership.
Youth LEAD, lead of Goal No. 4 will continue working to expand the the trainings for youth organizations to influence Global Fund processes at the country level. The working group piloted 3 workshops where it validated its use. Additionallly, the working group has kept involved in different Global Fund processes, including the Partnership’s Fora and the upcoming new strategy of the Fund.
JYAN, lead of Goal No. 3 walked through some of the challenges faced by not having an active membership. Some of the activities are already being undertaken by partners like UNDP so the working group will liaise with them to not duplicate work and focus on the activities that can yield more benefit. The group will be finalizing the Legal Barriers Advocacy Pack and then will focus on getting funding for trainings and support in key countries.
IFMSA, lead of Goal No. 5, briefed all about the new funding secured for the phase 4 of ACT!2015 and the upcoming activities. The secured funding will be used to promote youth-led and data-driven accountability, especially in relation to CSE and Youth-friendly health services, in the 10 countries that have already received funding in previous phases of ACT!2015 and will be able to expand to 12 countries; fundraising efforts will continue to be made to expand to more countries.
Immediate actions include finalization of a contract with IPPF who will be managing the funds for national actions, finalization and diffusion of ToRs for priority activities which include the development of training curriculums, trainings and technical support to countries.