GYCA is a youth-led global network of more than 8,000 young leaders and adult allies working on youth and HIV/AIDS in 173 countries worldwide.GYCA's mission is to empower young leaders with the skills, knowledge, resources, and opportunities they need to scale-up HIV/AIDS interventions amongst their peers.

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World AIDS Day: Relevance of engaging young people in NPT Programming as a practical way to end HIV

While there have been many successes in the AIDS response, 30 years into the epidemic awareness about HIV is still very low in many places. Only 24% of young women and 36% of young men in low-and middle-income countries have adequate knowledge about HIV and how to prevent it. An estimated 4.5 million young people are living with HIV today. Many lack access to lifesaving treatment. There are about 2,100 new HIV infections among young people, every day! HIV continues to spread at alarming rates in some areas with a high prevalence among the age group of 15-24 years.

Young women continue to bear the brunts of key populations infected and affected, and have up to 8 times, more HIV than men in Africa.

Presently, The global AIDS response trend has shown that if young people are better engaged at various and ongoing new prevention researches, it is most likely our generation is key to finding the solution and cure to ending the epidemic.

To decide our own futures and be more informed, young people need to work together, be engaged to share ideas with elites and research stakeholders, that inspire actions across communities, across countries, across regions, and across the world. Though our access to healthcare and secondary education are limited, our opportunities to take more active roles in the AIDS response should not be limited.

Recall, within 1981 to 1988, we had global occurrence such that, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) was identified as the cause of AIDS ; the first HIV antibody test became available, a heterosexual AIDS epidemic was revealed in Africa, and the first therapy for AIDS – Zidovudine (AZT) was approved for use in the USA.

Also, whilst tracking the histories of Microbicides effectiveness trials, it was shown that these research began at the early 1990s, having passed through various efficacy stages and modeling. With the ongoing speed and  discoveries, it is obvious that the present researchers are promising to finding the cure to HIV, but it is uncertain how soon this breakthroughs is going to come.

Furthermore, in scaling up present and available prevention tools such as Male circumcision, male and female condoms, behavioral intervention, HIV counseling and testing, it is pertinent that young people should be trained and mentor in HIV Prevention scientific researches, to hold the forte while the present scientists might have been too old to do more laboratory work.

Persistence is needed while doing any research, most especially HIV Prevention research. This was visible in Microbicide CAPRISA 004 (tenofovir gel) trial which took 8 years.

‘’We need to be trained and involved in research and clinical practices, not only as advocates that lobby with the government’’. There are several young people across the globe that should be leading various researches because of our training as clinicians. The concept of microbicides is now proven – 20 years after it was first proposed and 18 years after it first human trials. This is a pointer that an upcoming HIV vaccine might take longer timing than expected.

Also, there are several new products that are in pipeline, plus the efforts to finalize the licensure of others. It is important to note that, in the agenda of New Prevention Technologies, young people must play key roles in sustainance and maintaining the already established trials to push it to the end.

Young people should be provided with opportunities and support for research oriented fellowship that will help local laboratories, local clinicians and scientists. Organizations should also pay more attention to young scientists and advocates, because we are an investment for the present situation.

To cup it all, young people to be informed about present and future reasearch, and the implications of these on their lives. This creates a platform for effective roll out of any vaccines and/or microbicides.

If the world must succeed in overcoming the challenges to developing an HIV Vaccine, there must be an effective involvement of young people in all spheres to help finish the job.

The next generation of AIDS researchers could successfully bring one of human history’s most devastating and long-lasting pandemics to a close. Young people should be given a boost.

Reference and Related Articles ;

ü  Global Health Technologies Coalition ; Vaccinate against the brain drain

ü  The role of HIV vaccines in prevention strategies for young people.

ü  Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA)
Antiretrovirals for HIV prevention: New hope and opportunity    

 UNAIDS Factsheets ; 2008

Gabriel Adeyemo with contribution by Sydney Hushie


November 29, 2013 | 4:55 AM Comments  {num} comments

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