Call to action: from Mali, across the world, and on to the United Nations

Over 3000 young people are infected with HIV every day. Only 1 in 3 young people have full knowledge of how HIV is transmitted.

from What about HIV?

Some of the participants at the Global Youth Summit on HIV, Mali 15-17 April 2011. CC. Photos by Kris Krug: http://www.kriskrug.com/

With world leaders meeting on the subject of AIDS at the United Nations headquarters in New York on 10 June 2011. The global youth movement, What about HIV? founded in Mali at the Global Youth Summit on HIV/AIDS is calling for world leaders and heads of government to implement their Call to Action.

As a relatively young person living with HIV right here in the city of Belfast, Northern Ireland, I feel it is important for me to have joined their call – so I have signed up here. Please consider doing so yourself.

Don’t forget that here in Belfast you can make a difference to people right across Northern Ireland who live with HIV by donating to The HIV Support Centre which is now in its 25th year here in the city of Belfast

The full text of the Call to Action is below.

MALI CALL TO ACTION: NEW LEADERSHIP FOR THE HIV RESPONSE

In this Call to Action, we are not making recommendations; these are demands from young people who are already leading the AIDS response in their communities. To transform the HIV response, we need transformative leadership. We are young people who know the realities of our peers and the challenges they face, but we are also young people with the potential to bring about sustainable change.

Nevertheless, our efforts alone are clearly not enough. It is also clear that many governments have yet to deliver on the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS approved by the 2001 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS and the 2006 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS. If we are ever to achieve the vision of zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero stigma and discrimination, governments must acknowledge and reaffirm these unmet commitments and ensure that updated commitments are fulfilled.

Therefore, we the young people of the Mali Youth Summit on HIV/AIDS, working with and representing diverse youth networks from around the world, including young key affected populations,[1] call on heads of states and governments and all leaders to empower young people to take leadership of the AIDS response to:

  • implement United Nations General Assembly Resolution 58/133 which calls on Member States to include young people as part of official delegations to relevant United Nations and regional General Assembly meetings and related activities, and take part in  preparation and negotiations, including the 2011 United Nations General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS;
  • create formal spaces for young key affected populations, specifically young people living with HIV, at the highest level of decision-making by giving them priority in community, national, regional and global decision-making bodies, from conceptualization through design, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes;
  • create and institutionalize and support the capacity-building of youth bodies within the national and local AIDS coordinating forums at which youth leaders can receive legitimacy from and be able to provide feedback to the constituency of young people;

1) Secure resources and funding to support new youth leadership for a sustainable HIV response

  • ensure core funding for programming and research for youth-led movements and initiatives, accompanied by necessary capacity-building for achieving the Millennium Development Goals;
  • support the sustainable involvement of young people in decision-making regarding funds allocated to the AIDS response, especially young key affected populations;
  • implement transparent monitoring and evaluation mechanisms for governments’ financial commitments to HIV and AIDS, including ensuring sufficient domestic resources for HIV and young people’s needs in this context, following the example of the commitment of the Abuja Declaration on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Other Related Infectious Diseases to allocate 15% of the national budget to HIV and broader health needs;

2) Protect and promote human rights to eliminate stigma and discrimination from legal frameworks

  • fully repeal punitive and discriminatory national laws, policies and practices, specifically those that target young key affected populations such as young people who use drugs, young men who have sex with men, young people living with HIV, young transgender people and young sex workers;
  • remove barriers such as arbitrary age restrictions and mandatory parental consent that restrict access to harm reduction services for young key affected populations, including access to needle and syringe programmes, opiate substitution therapy and treatment services that are based on evidence and human rights for young people who use drugs;
  • take action to ensure a human rights–based approach to issues that put adolescents and young key affected populations most at risk, with a particular focus on passing progressive laws and updating policies and laws that may restrict young people’s access to HIV prevention, services, treatment, care, support and commodities.

3) Deliver HIV information and services that meet the diverse needs of young key affected populations

  • collect strategic age-disaggregated data for informed planning and programming, including data for the age groups 15–24 and 25–34 years, sex, marital status and other relevant indicators for young key affected populations;
  • involve young key affected populations in designing, implementing and evaluating comprehensive and confidential health services, including both HIV and sexual and reproductive health services for young people in both urban and rural areas, with particular focus on access to treatment for young people living with HIV;
  • ensure young people’s access to evidence-informed prevention tools, including, but not limited to, condoms, comprehensive and targeted sexuality education inside and outside schools, peer-to-peer education, harm reduction programmes and access to antiretroviral therapy as prevention, acknowledging the specific needs of young key affected populations; and
  • sustain and increase funding mechanisms specific to and led by young people, including seed grants and acknowledging best practices, such as the HIV Young Leaders Fund.

We, the young people of the Mali Youth Summit on HIV/AIDS, pledge to:

  • build and strengthen the capacity of youth leaders and youth organizations through mentorship, global, regional and local partnerships, information sharing and networking;
  • mobilize our global and local networks and stakeholders through online and offline mechanisms, including social media, to lead the global HIV response;
  • hold governments accountable to their commitments;
  • use this Call to Action at the United Nations General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS and other high-level meetings related to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

We accept the responsibility we have as young leaders and pledge to hold ourselves accountable to the same degree that we will hold you accountable.

from Call to Action

2 thoughts on “Call to action: from Mali, across the world, and on to the United Nations

  1. the call is fantastic and need to be followed to its logical conclusion as it has what it takes to ensure that we uproot HIV/AIDS amongst our youths.

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