Including Youth in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy

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Advocates for Youth Joins Call to President for Young People to be Included the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reports nearly 26 percent of all new HIV cases occur among young people ages 13 to 24 years old.

2015 NYHAAD infographic

Prioritize Young People in the Response to HIV and AIDS

For Millennials, HIV is still a major concern. If we want to see a decline in HIV rates then we need to truly prioritize young people, 30 years is too long to wait for our health to be put at the center of this conversation.

The country has an alarming health issue on our hands. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 26 percent of all new HIV cases occur among young people ages 13 to 24 years old. Youth are at a higher risk of HIV due to factors they have little control over, including lack of access to health care. Among young people living with HIV, only 13% are receiving enough medication so that the virus is suppressed – the lowest percentage among any age group.

“For Millennials, HIV is still a major concern. If we want to see a decline in HIV rates then we need to truly prioritize young people, 30 years is too long to wait for our health to be put at the center of this conversation,” said Januari McKay Program Coordinator, Health and Social Equity at Advocates for Youth.

Created in 2012 by 12 founding partners, National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) is a day to educate the public about the impact of HIV and AIDS on young people and is now officially recognized by AIDS.gov. NYHAAD is observed annually on April 10 and celebrated by several organizations across the U.S.

This year the focus of NYHAAD is to encourage the President and other Administration officials to prioritize young people most at risk and to ensure that their specific needs are in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. While officials and agencies strive to get to an “AIDS-free Generation” it's important to remember that young people are the only segment of the population for whom rates of HIV are increasing in this country. Young people are woefully impacted by lack of access to youth friendly testing, treatment, and care. To truly prioritize young people in the national strategy governments, communities, and oroganziations must commit to the programs and policies that can can safeguard their health.

Fewer than half of all young people living with HIV have been diagnosed. To impact change, youth need to be informed that they have access to preventative services provided at no out-of-pocket cost under the Affordable Care Act. They need access to widespread and normalized HIV testing. To receive testing and treatment, they need linkages to medical care, so they can get the care and medication they need to suppress the HIV virus. On a societal level, there needs to be an end to HIV stigma that keeps young people from seeking testing and treatment.

NYHAAD serves as an opportunity to elevate the national conversation about young people and HIV/AIDS and highlight the work of engaged young people responding to the epidemic; and to call on our government to prioritize all young people in efforts to reach an AIDS-free generation.

On Tuesday, April 7 at 1PM ET Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) will host a NYHAAD press call with NYHAAD Youth Ambassadors Anndrekia and Brandon. To RSVP for the press call click here.

On Wednesday, April 8 at 4PM ET CDC NPIN (@DrZazaCDC), AIDS.gov (AIDSgov), MAC AIDS Fun (@MACAIDSFund) and Advocates (@YouthAIDSDay) will host a Twitter chat on the impact of HIV and AIDS on young people. Follow along using #NYHAADchat.

Advocates believes it is more important than ever to recommit to the fight against HIV and AIDS by investing in young people. Young people must be brought to the table not only as partners, but as leaders that can truly change the tide of the HIV and AIDS epidemic. Only by fully investing in young people - in their health, their education, and their leadership - will AIDS-free generation be attainable.

For more information on NYHAAD follow @YouthAIDSDay on Twitter and Instagram, like National Youth HIV & AIDS Day on Facebook, and online at http://www.youthaidsday.org

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National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day Founding Partners: Advocates for Youth; Adolescent AIDS Program at the Children's Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center; AIDS Alabama; AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth & Families; AIDS TaskForce of Greater Cleveland; AIDS United; Hetrick-Martin Institute; National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD); National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD); National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition; National Minority AIDS Council; Sexuality Information and Information Council of the United States (SIECUS); and Whitman-Walker Health (Formerly Metro TeenAIDS).

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Rachel Cooke
Advocates for Youth
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