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people lead HIV prevention revolution: AU
April 14, 2011
are leading the prevention revolution by increasingly acting to
protect themselves from HIV said the African Union (AU) during the
pre-summit African Youth Forum that was held at the AU Headquarters
in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last week.
revolution" is a global commitment by UNAIDS and its co-sponsors
to galvanize leaderships at all levels, communities and all key
stakeholders and development partners to halt the HIV epidemic-the
ultimate vision is zero new infections , zero discrimination and
requires greatly intensified efforts to address the needs of all
those at risk of infection, and of everyone living with HIV, with
quality, scaled up programmes based on evidence of what works.
The AU said
that only by stemming the tide of new HIV infections can those already
HIV positive be assured life-time care, treatment and support and
efforts are targeted at those countries and populations where the
most new infections are occurring, especially the high prevalence
countries in eastern and southern Africa.
by the AU revealed that although there were 1.8 million new HIV
infections in sub Saharan Africa during 2009, 22 countries reported
a prevalence decline of more than 25 percent. The statistics showed
that the number of young people living with HIV is falling in 13
African countries, a tremendous achievement on which African government
can build on.
The high burden
countries that have achieved a 25 percent reduction in HIV prevalence
among young people by 2010 were Zimbabwe, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia,
Cote d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia and South
Africa while Burundi, Lesotho and Rwanda achieved some decline but
was below the 25 percent mark.
The AU said
new infections are declining in young people because they are changing
their sexual behavior. Young women and men are waiting longer to
become sexually active, have fewer partners, and are increasingly
using condoms and greater numbers are learning their HIV status.
In many high prevalence countries, more young men are also opting
According to the Population Reference Bureau (2006), young people
10-24 comprised over one-quarter of the world's population
in 2006, some 1.8 billion people, of whom 305 million lived in Africa.
This figure is projected to rise to 424 million by 2025 comprising
the largest cohort of young people ever.
The AU says
while Africa can benefit from this demographic dividend, the large
number of young people poses a challenge for the Millennium Development
Goals (MDG's), including MDG 6 on HIV and Aids, TB and Malaria.
It said that drastic actions were needed to empower young people
to protect themselves from HIV and AIDS.
The UNAIDS strategy
2011-2015, 'Getting to Zero' commits to halving new
infections by 2015. The East African and SADC communities, regions
with the most new HIV infections, have also committed to halving
new infections by 2015 and to virtual elimination of mother to child
HIV transmission. Young people are an essential part of this commitment,
both as active participants and as people at risk, statistics say
that around 40 percent of new infections globally in 2009 were in
The AU said
that there is no room for complacency as young people continue to
carry a heavy HIV burden. Nearly 4 million HIV positive young people
live in sub-Saharan Africa, 80 percent of the world total most of
these are young women. Up to 8 young women 15-24 age group are HIV
positive for every male in that age range according to UNAIDS.
heavy HIV burden, most young people still have no access to adequate,
age appropriate and effective sexuality education including HIV
prevention within the school systems or community. They also lack
sufficient access to and uptake of quality HIV testing and counseling
and linked support services, including youth and gender friendly
sexual and reproductive services, and male and female condoms.
The way forward
is to provide young women and men with effective, age-appropriate,
rights-based sexuality education and programme effective social
and behavior change strategies so that young people and adults have
comprehensive knowledge of HIV and understand and act on their own
risk, the AU said.
It also emphasized
the need to scale up and increase uptake of quality HIV testing
and counseling, condom access, and youth and gender friendly sexual
and reproductive health services including antenatal care and PMTCT.
It also stressed the need to understand where new infections are
occurring, support young people's leadership and involvement
in national HIV prevention responses, ensure resource provisions
for young people's programmes, address gender based violence
and develop strategies and support services to mitigate its impact.
The AU also
said that state parties should include youth programming in all
relevant national development frameworks and strategies, ensure
implementation of laws, policies and other commitments aimed at
youth development, strengthen the inter-sectoral coordination and
collaboration of national youth-serving institutions and to generate
and use age and sex disaggregated data on young people in programmes
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