A spirit of optimism is in the air. 50 young leaders from Latin America and Europe have joined together to open the “House of Prevention”. At the largest scientific conference on HIV research worldwide, the voice of young people should be heard sufficiently. The educational initiative was omnipresent during the conference with the official condom, which was produced by Youth against AIDS together with LifeStyles Healthcare. The 10th IAS Conference on HIV Science (IAS 2019) take place this year in Mexico City from 21 to 24 July.
AIDS is still the leading cause of death among young people aged 10-24 in Africa. The disease is the second most common cause in the same age group worldwide. In Latin America, too, UNAIDS recorded an increase in some new HIV infections in all age groups last year. In Brazil, these reached an all-time high of 53,000 in 2018.
In order to develop sustainable strategies, Youth against AIDS invited 50 young people from 11 different countries in Europe and Latin America to Mexico City. Together they set new standards in youth engagement against HIV and AIDS with the “House of Prevention”. Although in theory the starting position is better than ever to defeat the disease, success seems a long way off. There are many reasons for this. Stigmatisation of HIV-positive people, traditional and strongly religious societies, repressive politicians or unequal opportunities to receive treatment and medication are just a few of them. That is why Youth against AIDS, together with a strong international network of NGOs, business partners and youth activists, wants to shake up and give an impulse not only to talk, but to finally act.
The new campaign will be broadcast over a year on various online and offline channels as well as events. The focus is on the sentence “We could end AIDS, if…”, which is intended to bring about a rethink among decision-makers around the world. Young people from all over the world are giving their ideas and a face to the campaign. The campaign will be finale at the International AIDS Conference 2020 in San Francisco, where Youth against AIDS will gather 300 young people in its own Youth Headquarters. Therefore, YAA launched a campaign platform: http://wecouldendaids.org
“Everyone is talking about the importance of youth engagement. But when it comes to the really important decisions, we are often left out. Together with young people from all over the world, we want to change the way we think. Despite all the circumstances, we are still certain that we will not only be able to end AIDS, but also become it,” says Daniel Nagel, Chairman of the Board of Youth against AIDS.
„It excites me beyond expression that you are here, that you are committed & that you want to do this work. We are 100 percent behind you, and we are very excited about our march to #AIDS2020 when you come to our home”, said Douglas Brooks, Executive Director at Gilead Sciences.
Guests of the “House of Prevention” this year were many high-class speakers from different sectors:
- Dr Shannon Hader, Deputy Executive Director of Programme at UNAIDS
- Dr David Piontkowski, Vice President at Gilead HIV Medical Affairs
- Kate Thomson, Head of the Community, Rights and Gender Department at the Global Fund
- Dr Hendrik Streeck, Local Scientific Chair IAS 2021 in Berlin and Director of the Institute for HIV Research at the University Hospital Duisburg-Essen
- Dr Paula Cannon, Distinguished professor in the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California
- César Antonio Núñez, Director, Regional Support Team for Latin America at UNAIDS
- Dr Larkin Callaghan, Co-Chair Local Planning Group AIDS 2020 in San Francisco and Director of Strategy, Communications and Partnerships at USCF AIDS Research Institute
Youth against AIDS launched its first international campaign under the slogan “We can end AIDS” in New York City in March 2018. With the campaign Youth against AIDS reached young people all over the world within a very short time. For the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam in August 2018, YAA opened its own Youth Headquarters, inviting 300 activists from around the world.
Youth against AIDS in Mexico is supported by Gilead Sciences, AXA, Facebook, Levi Strauss and LifeStyles Healthcare.
Youth against AIDS e.V. is a non-profit organization of young people who are committed to sexual health worldwide. Youth against AIDS and its network of young volunteers provide innovative information and dialogue, access to affordable condoms and opportunities to include young people’s perspectives in the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases in the social debate. Youth against AIDS is advised by a top-class advisory board under the patronage of Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The organization is led by a four-member executive committee. YAA is based in Hamburg, Germany.