Link Up is an ambitious, five country programme which aims to improve the sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) of more than one million young people living with and affected by HIV in Bangladesh, Burundi, Ethiopia, Myanmar and Uganda.
Young people account for 40% of all new adult HIV infections. Each day, more than 2400 young people become infected with HIV - and some five million young people aged 15-24 live with HIV. The majority of SRHR/HIV programmes focus on adults living with HIV or on married women of reproductive age. Young people in many countries are often underserved by these programmes, or in the case of young people living with and affected by HIV, not served at all.
Link Up aims to change this. The project 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.
Over a period of three years, the project will: provide comprehensive education on SRHR; build the skills and knowledge of civil society and governments to deliver improved services and improve access; promote and protect the rights of young people affected by HIV in their own national contexts; and gather evidence around what works when integrating sexual and reproductive health and HIV services.
Link Up will distinctively work with young women and men living with and affected by HIV aged 24 years and under, with a particular focus on young women and men living with HIV, sex workers and children who are exploited for sex†, men who have sex with men and , transgender people, all of whom experience extreme difficulties accessing services due to the high levels of stigma, discrimination, and in some cases, the fear of arrest.
In the generalised epidemics of Burundi, Ethiopia and Uganda Link Up works to ensure that SRHR is integrated into existing HIV services for young men and women and vice versa. The programme will work with young people as an entry point to reach those most in need.
In the concentrated epidemics of Bangladesh and Myanmar interventions focus on meeting the needs of young key populations. The programme works with people living with HIV and key population groups to integrate sexual and reproductive health and rights into existing programmes as an entry point to reach young people living with affected by HIV. SRHR information and services are tailored in order to overcome barriers to access, such as fear of stigma, discrimination and arrest.
The programme draws on the experiences of a consortium of organisations, and the existing strengths of the implementing partners. By ‘linking up’ we will make a significant contribution to the integration of sexual reproductive health and rights interventions. Our partners are:
The programme runs from January 2013 to January 2016. Link Up is funded by a grant of $43.8M from the the Government of the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken or BUZA)through its Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Fund.
†We refer to sex workers (aged 18-24) where relevant and ‘children exploited for sex’ for those aged below it.