Link Up recognises that young people remain at the centre of the HIV epidemic and they have the power, through their leadership, to help bring an end to AIDS.
The project, which is funded by a grant of $43.8M from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the government of the Netherlands (BUZA), will distinctively work with young women and men living with and affected by HIV aged 24 years and under, with a particular focus on men who have sex with men, sex workers and children who are exploited for sex††, people who use drugs, transgender people, as well as young women and men living with HIV, all of whom experience extreme difficulties accessing services due to the high levels of stigma, discrimination, and in some cases, the fear of arrest.
According to Divya Bajpai, the Alliance’s senior advisor on sexual and reproductive health: “This is a fantastic opportunity to implement tailored and integrated HIV and SRHR interventions to increase uptake and access which will lead to lower rates of HIV incidence, unintended pregnancy, maternal mortality and sexually transmitted infections as well as provide greater social protection and guidance for vulnerable young people.”
She continued: “In many countries the rights of young women living with HIV to start a family and to make informed choices about family planning and maternal health are simply not recognised. Link Up will make a major contribution to the integration of sexual and reproductive health and rights with HIV services in the five project countries and beyond.”
Link Up is being implemented by a consortium of international and national NGOs led by the International HIV/AIDS Alliance (the Alliance) which has a strong track record in promoting the integration of HIV and sexual and reproductive health and rights through its programming and policy work.
The programmes are being implemented by five Alliance linking organisations: HASAB in Bangladesh, Alliance Burundaise Contre le SIDA in Burundi, the Organisation for Support Services for AIDS (OSSA) in Ethiopia, Alliance Myanmar and Community Action on Health in Uganda, along with the country programmes of Marie Stopes International in Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Uganda.
This work is being supported by international policy partners including the ATHENA Network, Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS and Stop AIDS Now!
The project will be evaluated by the Population Council which is also conducting operations research in Bangladesh and Uganda.
Read more about Link Up here.
†The Consortium uses the official UN recognised name Myanmar.
†† We refer to sex workers (aged 18-24) where relevant and ‘children exploited for sex’ for those aged below it.