Lusaka, Zambia, 4 October 2023 - Young advocates and activists, civil society organisations and various stakeholders from around the world participated in a three-day hybrid workshop in Lusaka, Zambia, to identify solutions to the most pressing HIV and SRH issues that adolescents and young people face.
For many participants joining the HIV and Adolescence workshop, this was a platform where they could share their stories and experiences, connect with people from different countries, and be a part of a larger regional and global youth movement, motivated and dedicated to improving health outcomes - for themselves and the communities they represent and serve. For Bella, a young trans woman living with HIV, this conference was exactly just that.
“Being a trans woman is not easy. I often face many obstacles, especially stigma and discrimination because of my gender identity, and my positive HIV status also makes it difficult. I experience this from my family, within education, and when accessing health services.”
BellaA participant at the HIV and Adolescence Workshop
Bella is joined by hundreds of like-minded youth advocates who share similar goals, bringing a wealth of knowledge on empowering youth, advocacy, campaign building, programme implementation and best practices to address issues such as stigma and discrimination and gaps and barriers in access to critical services. The workshop is packed with exciting activities, discussions, and networking opportunities for all attendees joining online and in person.
Every year, Academic Medical Education organises the International Workshop on HIV and Adolescence with the support of ViiV, Johnson and Johnson, and other partners such as UNICEF, PEPFAR, and UNAIDS. The Youth Reference Group, which is a team of young people dedicated to leading the workshop, works closely with Y+ Global and other partners to create a program that caters to the interests of young people living with and affected by HIV.
According to the latest data from UNAIDS and UNICEF, AIDS remains the leading cause of death of adolescents in East and Southern Africa. UNICEF’s report on child marriage also informs us that over one in four young women give birth before age 18, one in three girls get married by age 18, and almost one in six young women experience gender-based violence 1.
“The rising concerns of HIV among youth is partly due to the increased discrimination against young women. HIV has the potential to withstand national development if it is not addressed. Many youth lack knowledge of HIV prevention, treatment and care, which is crucial in reducing the rates of HIV prevalence. Stakeholders need to invest and collaborate with young people if we are to succeed and bring those numbers down.”
H.E Mutinta HichilemaFirst Lady of the Republic of Zambia
Y+ Global led several skill-building sessions during the workshop. These sessions included one on strengthening youth leadership programming for better health outcomes and another on leveraging social media and online platforms for advocacy. The success and interest from last year's workshop inspired the latter session. These capacity-building sessions were crucial to the workshop because they equipped young advocates with the skills necessary to design programs and interventions, advocate for their causes, and use social media to foster creativity and change.
“One of the things I appreciate most about this workshop is being able to hear the latest evidence, reflect on it, discuss it with like-minded people and look at new ways to improve programmes for adolescents. This workshop does not only look at findings from studies or trials. It looks at evidence from the ground, including programmes that are driven by civil society and young people.”
Alice ArmstrongHIV/AIDS Specialists Adolescents, UNICEF East and Southern Africa
During the workshop, Y+ Global had the chance to promote the UNITED Movement, which was established in early 2023 with the support of UNICEF, UNFPA, UNAIDS, and AfriYan. The movement aims to unite youth leaders to strategise and create an inclusive regional response to HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights. Young advocates interested in joining the movement can follow Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates.
“This is my second time attending the workshop. It’s a platform where I get to interact, learn and network with new people within the HIV space. I see this platform as a great opportunity for knowledge and information sharing and for young people to showcase their projects, achievements, and research through the different sessions and workshops.”
Maxwell KatekweMonitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning Officer at Y+ Global
Together with PATA, Y+ Global launched the "We are the Change” capacity-building curriculum for community-based organisations working with and for adolescent girls and young women. This comprehensive guide offers tools for organisations, covering topics related to human resources and networking to advocacy, finance, sustainability, AGYW-led programs, and more. This technical guide addresses those critical issues while keeping things fun, interactive, simple, and easy to use.
The Workshop came to an exciting end with the development of the Young People’s Lusaka Declaration and the announcement of the 2024 International HIV Adolescence Workshop, which will take place in Kenya.