By Ricardo Baruch
More than 30 young activists from all over the world participated in the High Level Meeting on Ending AIDS that took place in New York. During 3 days (and some weeks before that), young people participated in negotiations, panels and meetings in order to share their experiences and demands.
The High Level Meeting started with the adoption of the Political Declaration that was negotiated in the previous weeks by UN member states and some CSOs. Many representatives of civil society were very disappointed that there were no opportunities to improve the language related to key populations, harm reduction, comprehensive sexuality education and other important issues that are key for the response to the epidemic and that are also controversial for some conservative governments. Some of the relevant language is included at the end of this document.
Even though young people were present at the HLM, in the sessions of 2006 and 2011 there were certainly more. In general, there was less participation from civil society. Loyce Maturu from Zimbabwe, L’Orangelis Thomas from Puerto Rico, Ian Royer from Trinidad & Tobago, Jeff Acaba from Philippines and other young activists were speakers in different events but there were only a few opportunities for young activists to express their opinions. There were two youth-related events: one was organized by UNAIDS Brazil and the other was convened by Dutch NGOs with the participation of some PACT members including Annah Sango, Tania Martinez, Niluka Perera and Carlo Oliveras. Other PACT members present at the HLM included Oliver Anene, Michalina Drejza and Ruben Pages from UNAIDS.
The day before the HLM, approximately 25 young people participated in the Youth Pre-meeting where some strategies were developed and people had the chance to network and update each other about what was happening at that moment, when there was uncertainty about whether or not the Declaration would be open for negotiations.
The HLM comprised speeches from Ministers of Health, HIV program directors and other high level officials at the Plenary of the General Assembly, but there were also thematic panels and many side events organized by governments and CSOs. There were some important announcements in the context of the HLM such as a large investment from PEPFAR for key populations and also, the launch of the new WHO treatment guidelines.
If you want to read the Political Declaration, see the attached document. Some relevant language that was included for youth is the following:
Relevant paragraphs for young people:
Views and opinions expressed in these blogs are those of the authors, and do not necessarily represent those of the organizations that support this initiative, nor is the publishing of these blogs an endorsement. This space is provided for youth advocates to freely express their views on issues that affect them and relate to their work.