No Ending AIDS Without Inclusion of ALL

ABIDJAN, Cote d’Ivoire – The African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR) commemorates this World AIDS day, on the margins of the 19th International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa (ICASA) by convening a two-day Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) Institute for Young Key Populations with the theme, ‘Onto the African Map: Youth Key Populations and HIV’ keeping with the theme of this 19th ICASA ‘Africa: Ending AIDS – delivering differently.’

The theme ‘delivering differently’ requires stakeholders to appreciate the intersectional challenges that exacerbate the vulnerability of young people to the HIV epidemic – in particular, young women and young key populations. While progress is being made in responding to the HIV epidemic across the continent especially in relation to access, treatment and care, recent data from UNICEF indicates that in 2016 alone, 610,000 young people aged between 15-24 years were newly infected with HIV and 260,000 of these were aged between 15 and 19 years old.

Programmes targeted at adolescents, predominantly young women and young key populations continue to be neglected or are designed without the input of the affected demographic and this requires urgent redress, if the initiative established to ending the AIDS epidemic amongst adolescents by 2030 is to succeed – this not only calls for policy makers to re-think existing strategies and interventions but to show commitment to addressing the epidemic. This should be done by engaging the affected groups and investing in communities while holding policy makers accountable for ensuring the right to equitable healthcare for all Africans.

AMSHeR’s theme for the 19th ICASA is ‘No Ending AIDS Without Inclusion of All’ which speaks to the prioritisation of human rights, particularly the right to health in the post Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) framework and that prioritises human rights in responding to new HIV infections – it also speaks to the need for improved response to violence, stigma, discrimination and violations based on sexuality and gender in Africa.

Executive Director, Humphrey Ndondo reiterated, ‘in focusing and engaging with young key populations on this World AIDS day, AMSHeR hopes to generate a broader conversation located in African, about the context of youth queer sexuality and identity, youth in sex work, youth trans* persons and youth who use drugs or inject drugs. AMSHeR seeks to meaningfully engage with, and articulate a broad conversation on the state of HIV/ AIDS programming and funding and investment for young persons across the African continent – AIDS cannot end without the inclusion of all”.

“Events such as the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Institute (SRHR) that affords AMSHeR the chance to interact with brilliant young people from all across the continent inspires us to do even more to deliver differently”, he added