#WeAreREADY at the World Health Assembly

The Alliance is profiling READY, a portfolio of projects focusing on adolescents living with and most affected by HIV, at the 70th World Health Assembly in Geneva from 22 to 31 May.

READY stands for Resilient and Empowered Adolescents and Young People, and represents an expanding portfolio of projects implemented in collaboration with other organisations. READY+ and READY Teens are two projects already underway in East, Central and Southern Africa.

Why focus on adolescents?

Adolescence is a distinct time of life, marked by puberty, the transition from childhood to adulthood, and a desire to form relationships and explore sexuality. It is a period when we are particularly vulnerable to having our health needs compromised by social norms, peer pressure and lack of adequate services.

Adolescents from key populations, including adolescents living with HIV, selling sex, using drugs and from sexual minorities, are particularly vulnerable because of stigma, discrimination and criminalisation, which can prevent them from accessing services.

Alarmingly, this age group has seen a 50% rise in AIDS mortality since 2000, compared to a 30% fall among other age groups. In sub-Saharan Africa, AIDS is the leading cause of death among adolescents, and globally the second most common. We need to step up our efforts to ensure that adolescents, especially those from key populations, are reached with specialised and targeted HIV programmes.

WeAreREADY collageFrom left to right : Consolata Opiyo (Y+), Jaime Luna (Y+), Gcebile Dlamini (SNYP+), Rawnak Rabbi (Youth Voices Count), Nadya Muharami (NYP+), Nicholas Niwagaba (UNYPA), Claudia Nizigiyimana (RNJ+), Moses Bwire (Peer to Peer Uganda), and Nadège Munyaburanga (Kigali Hope Association).

What are we doing at the WHA?

The Alliance, together with Aidsfonds, the Global Network of Young People living with HIV (Y+) and other partners are teaming up at the 70th World Health Assembly (WHA) to shine a spotlight on the health and social needs of adolescents and young people particularly vulnerable to and affected by HIV.

We will bring our evidence and experience to influence WHA positions around adolescents’ health. One of the WHA agenda items includes an update on the status of the Global health strategy for women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (2016 – 2030): Adolescents’ health.

Throughout the week, we are participating in several side meetings together with other youth, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and HIV organisations.

Young people in the lead

Inspiring, articulate and energetic youth advocates involved in READY Teens, READY+ and Partnership to Inspire, Transform and Connect the HIV response (PITCH) will talk about why working with adolescents and young people matters, and will demonstrate the effectiveness of engaging young people in designing and leading such programmes.

These youth advocates include:

  • Consolata Opiyo is a young woman living with HIV from Kenya. An experienced community mobiliser and advocate, Consolata represents the priorities and interests of young people on the board of the International Community of Woman Living with HIV (ICW) Kenya, on Y+ and on the steering committee of the Adolescent Treatment Coalition.
  • Kelvin Kudakwashe Makura is a young man living with HIV from Zimbabwe. A passionate coordinator and advocate, Kelvin works with Zimbabwe Young Positives on both the READY+ and PITCH projects.
  • Cedric Nininahazwe is a young man living with HIV from Burundi. A qualified lawyer, Cedric is a regional project manager for Y+.

We are excited about the WHA and the opportunities it presents to connect, advocate and bring others into the READY movement. Will you join us? #WeAreREADY to #ActOnHIV.