HIV remains a key cause of mortality in 10 to 19 year-olds around the world many of whom are unable to access services which provide HIV testing, treatment and other vital support services.
As stigma, discrimination and a lack of knowledge remain huge barriers for adolescents around the world, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) is marking World Aids Day with a call for the international community to introduce more youth-friendly services in response to HIV to ensure young people are not left behind.
Today we have the largest ever generation of adolescents on the planet - 1.2 billion, 60 per cent of who are in Asia-Pacific. The most recent data shows that 2.1 million of these young people are living with HIV; the vast majority are in sub-Saharan Africa where HIV prevalence is particularly high among adolescent girls. The 2013 UNAIDS Report stated that 690,000 young people in Asia and Pacific are living with HIV. The figures indicate that services are still not reaching those who are the most vulnerable to HIV.
Adolescents shouldn’t be denied access, rights or opportunities. They should be empowered to take control over their bodies, through increased knowledge about sexual health and rights, and increased access to sexual and reproductive health services.
IPPF has a proud history of working on the areas of youth participation, youth empowerment, and youth leadership, along with a focus on youth friendly services and comprehensive sexuality education, both in and out of school. Half of IPPF’s services are taken up by people under 25.
Inclusive, comprehensive and integrated services are the way forward. Services should be dictated by need, at the furthest outposts and delivered without judgement.
“We believe that young people and adolescents, in all their diversity, are entitled to a positive and respectful approach to their sexuality and sexual relationships, and that they have a right to have pleasurable and safe sexual experiences,” said IPPF East and South East and Oceania Regional Director, Nora Murat.
“So, on World AIDS Day 2014, we renew our commitment to an AIDS-free world, by ensuring that no one, especially adolescents, is left behind.”
“The aim should be to promote recognition of young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights by encouraging open, honest and objective discussion that recognise and accept young people’s sexuality. Partnering with young people ensures that their voices are heard, valued and acted upon. It empowers them and makes them less vulnerable which ultimately strengthen societies,” said Nora.