By Ashley Boal (Graduate Policy Intern- Public Interest Government Relations Office)
Did you know youth (ages 13-24) account for 25% of new HIV infections?
This equates to approximately 1,000 new HIV infections among youth each month, mostly among minority gay and bisexual men. As APA observes Pride Month, now is an ideal time to bring attention to this issue.
Recently, more than 50 communities nationwide held events on the first ever National Youth HIV and AIDS Awareness Day. The day was recognized with a congressional resolution (H.RES.148) and began discussion about the important role of young people in ending HIV and AIDS.
Other than the high number of new infections among youth, why should young people be included in the discussion surrounding HIV and AIDS?
1. The needs and experiences of youth are pointedly different than those of adults.
- Experiences of bullying and stigma may have a profound impact on youth
- Needs surrounding confidentiality and safety may differ
- Integration of parents and families may be more important
- There may be unique opportunities for outreach and education (e.g., social media)
2. Young people need to be at the table.
- Young people must have the opportunity to provide their perspectives and help inform the decisions being made about prevention efforts
- In order to ensure prevention and treatment options are relevant to youth, research about these topics must include young people
3. National Youth HIV and AIDS Awareness Day was only the beginning.
- A lot of work remains to be done.
- To actually end HIV and AIDS, the focus on youth has to remain at the forefront.
What can you do to make sure youth and the needs of youth are included in the discussion about HIV and AIDS?
1. Connect with the youth HIV/AIDS community
- Meet youth activists in your community
- Get involved with coalitions focused on this issue
- Contact Advocates for Youth for help getting connected
2. Let your Representatives and Senators know that you support policies targeted to help youth
- Student Non-Discrimination Act (H.R.998)
- Resolution supporting the goals and ideals of National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (H.RES.148)
- Safe Schools Improvement Act (H.R.1199 / S.403)
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