Adolescents aged 10–19 are among the people most neglected by the HIV response, yet AIDS is the second biggest contributor to adolescent death globally and the main contributor in sub-Saharan Africa. During a satellite session at the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, adolescents and young people, high-level government officials, donors, researchers and youth service providers explored ambitious but effective ways of better protecting this key group.
At the 20 July session, called Ending the Epidemic in Adolescents, UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé announced a joint UNAIDS/UNICEF initiative entitled All In. The initiative aims to ensure that adolescents infected and affected by HIV are not left behind. It is intended to become a global movement to close the prevention and treatment gap and will be concentrated in 25 countries that represent 90% of AIDS-related deaths and 85% of new infections among adolescents.
To ensure that the movement is built from the grass roots and shaped by the meaningful involvement of the focused group, Mr Sidibé asked adolescents and young people to engage and help shape the way forward for All In.
The satellite session provided an opportunity to exchange information and ideas, with presentations of the latest data on the epidemic among adolescents, which show that comprehensive knowledge about the virus, condom use, HIV testing and treatment coverage are still low in most countries. Young people living with and affected by HIV also shared their experiences and challenged assembled government and United Nations officials to do more for the AIDS response.
In addition, highlights of a Youth Action Plan, developed at this year’s youth preconference event held on 18 and 19 July, were discussed. The plan is designed to ensure that young people are at the centre of the global movement to step up AIDS advocacy, policy and treatment.