Cultural sensitivities about sexual activity mean young boys and girls are missing out on access to many HIV prevention programmes, particularly young sex workers, people living with HIV and men who have sex with men.
This gap in programme access is one of the problems that Link Up - a project being implemented by a consortium of international and national NGOs led by the Alliance (see below) - is looking to tackle.
Through Link Up, all five Linking Organisations - in Bangladesh, Burundi, Ethiopia, Myanmar and Uganda - are benefiting from a series of capacity building workshops.
Read on to find out how participants reacted to one of these workshops in Burundi.
INTEGRATION '101' TRAINING
In Burundi, it is our Linking Organisation Alliance Burundaise Contre le SIDA (ABS) that is implementing Link Up. In October, they and their 15 partner organisations received basic training in how to link services around HIV and sexual and reproductive health and rights – otherwise known as the ‘101 integration’ training package.
C’est quoi 101?
It was an introductory workshop which aimed to reflect on key concepts such as youth participation, human rights, sexual rights, gender-based violence and entry points for integrating SRH and HIV services.
Jeanne d’Arc (pictured above with a young person) is the Link Up Coordinator and integration expert. She shares her views about the training:
“The training was based on an excellent Guide - developed specifically for this project - that was easy to use with very practical and easy exercises that allow you to collect a lot of information.
“The Guide allows people to talk and to be open, including sharing what is really inside them. With the exercises, some of these things come out openly, including things that are difficult to talk about culturally.
“The workshop inspired me a lot, especially in terms of the exchanges with young men who have sex with men (MSM). I was touched by the film which was screened and how the rights of MSM are violated in my own country.
“We also had a panel discussion with young people. One young person said, ‘We are tired, we have always asked for things to be done and nothing happens. So now we don’t ask for anything. We are telling you to pay attention (‘on vous met en garde’)…young people MUST be engaged in the integration of SRHR and HIV services or else nothing changes.’ We heard the young people loudly and clearly.
Taking Link Up forward in Burundi
ABS started implementing Link Up activities in August 2013. Since then, each partner has developed an operational plan with targets they need to achieve.
Activities so far include identifying young people who are living with HIV, sex workers and MSM to be peer educators (who will be trained to share information, offer counselling, distribute condoms and lubricants, and more) and organising support groups with the different key populations on a range of SRHR and HIV related topics.
Two key population networks will be supported within the project – RNJ+ (YPLHIV) and Humure (MSM). They are young leaders and strategic partners, who will work with ABS and the partners across all project activities.
In the coming months, ABS will work with the Ministry of Health to adapt the state-run training for peer educators so it is more rights-based and specifically addresses the needs of young key populations.
Linking up in five countries
The 101 Integration training is being delivered in all five countries, along with other packages of support around finance and monitoring and evaluation.
To find out more about Link Up, read the project overview and this summary of youth related policy recommendations for international donors, national governments, civil society organisations and health facilities. See links to the right.