The 2016 International AIDS Conference (IAC) is taking place in Durban, South Africa from 18th to 2nd July 2016. There are a number of pre-conference events taking place, including the Youth Pre-Conference. The theme of the Youth-Pre Conference and overall Youth Program is: Access, Rights and Accountability.
The Youth Pre-Conference is taking place at the Durban University of Technology, Manfield Hall, Gate 8, from 16th to 17th July 2016.
The Youth Pre-Conference’s opening ceremony included a number of statements from a youth representative and the keynote speaker.
A statement from the youth representative focused on the new face of HIV. Sharing his personal journey in the fight against HIV/ AIDS, Tshepo Ngoato emphasized that young people need to organize and rely on their collective strength if they are to impact the AIDS pandemic.
Dr. Asha Mohamud, Technical Adviser from the United Nations Population Fund’s East and Southern Africa Regional Office (UNFPA-ESARO) challenged young people to show leadership. She emphasised the need for young people to be engaged now more than ever, citing the increase in new infections among young people while in a majority of groups it has decreased.
She noted that there needs to be significant changes in the fight against AIDS in light of modern challenges in the fight. This includes lowering the age of consent for HIV testing. She called for young key populations to be readily and universally recognised and involved and reiterated the need for access and delivering comprehensive sexuality education. Dr. Asha noted these challenges in light of the fact that the youth population on the African continent is one of the fastest growing in the world, and that the continent will have largest adolescent population in the years to come.
Proceedings on the day included a number of sessions on Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE), led by specialists from UNFPA. Sessions emphasized the need to communicate the right information on sexuality, sex and the components of CSE. Other sessions featured progress in the work of the Safeguard Young People programme, showing how music can be a tool to deliver messages and education on sexuality, sex and gender equality.
Other session included discussions on correct and consistent use of condoms, and new technologies and methods of prevention for young people. Participants explored what challenges of information and access exist.
Finally, day 1 closed with reflections on our theme and discussed what access, rights and accountability means to young people. Young people were challenged to engage leaders in policy spaces and meetings at IAC 2016, including the Ministerial Meeting taking place on 18th July 2016, on the East and Southern Africa Commitment on Sexual and Reproductive Health.