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.