|Advocates for Youth Announces National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day|
Young People Demand to Be Prioritized in Fight Against HIV and AIDS
Washington, DC – Our nation's young people represent the first generation never to know a time without HIV and AIDS. Today, over 35,000 young people between the ages of 13 and 24 are living with HIV in the United States. Despite these harsh realities, young people are taking extraordinary measures to stem the tide of HIV and AIDS and are determined to end this pandemic once and for all.
Advocates for Youth, along with eleven other founding partners, announce the creation of National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day and call on President Obama, Congress, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to formally recognize this important day. April 10, 2013 will mark the first annual nationwide observance of the day. Each year, National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day will provide youth activists, public health organizations, and their allies an opportunity to hold our leaders accountable for realizing an AIDS-free generation.
"The road to an AIDS-free generation begins by prioritizing youth," said Debra Hauser, President of Advocates for Youth. "It is time to move past the short-term and what is politically safe and instead demonstrate the courage to recognize the rights of all young people to the sexual health information and services they need to protect their health and save their lives."
The creation of National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day is a step toward addressing the needs of young people in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Young people have shown that given the tools — youth friendly services, complete information about HIV, and access to condoms — they can protect themselves. Young people have the power and the will to prevent HIV.
"Young people are concerned about HIV and AIDS, they want to know how to protect themselves," said Lawrence Stallworth, II, who announced National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day during the XIX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) Youth Reception. "We need to be taught about HIV and AIDS in school, and we have to create communities where it’s OK for a young person to ask questions about their sexual health; for it to be normal for them to go to the school health center and get a condom; for them to be supported in getting tested for STDs and HIV without them being shamed. As an HIV-positive Black gay man, I know firsthand what this disease means for me and for those around me. Right now in the United States, a Black gay man has nearly a 1 in 4 chance of becoming infected with HIV by age 25. I consider it my responsibility to help educate my peers, and I invite others to join me. Young people cannot do it alone."
To coincide with the announcement of National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day, Advocates also launched a call-to-action petition at www.advocatesforyouth.org/youthaidsday for youth activists and their allies to call on President Obama, Congress, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to officially recognize National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day.
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 — can we reach an AIDS-free generation.
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 Task Force of Greater Cleveland; AIDS United; Hetrick-Martin Institute; Metro TeenAIDS; National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD); National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition; National Minority AIDS Council; and Sexuality Information and Information Council of the United States (SIECUS).
Advocates for Youth is a Washington, DC-based non-profit that works to ensure young people have the information and services to make responsible decisions about their sexual health.