20th July 2014
While we wait to hear confirmation of the true impact on yesterday’s MH17 tragedy for the global HIV community, young people are determined to honour the work and lives of those lost. Young people from over 50 countries all over the world yesterday gathered for the second day of the Melbourne Youth Force Pre-Conference ahead of the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia to continue to look towards the future while remembering and building on the past.
Speaking at a panel session at the Youth Pre-Conference this morning, Professor Rob Moodie from the University of Melbourne encouraged young people to use this time to focus on the importance of love. `I hope this inspires us to work harder for more things, particularly around the Melbourne Youth Force’s last theme of LOVE. I was lucky enough to work with Johnathan Mann, and he was the first man I ever heard speak of love as a powerful tool for public health.’
There has been no better time than now to continue to push for youth leadership and participation if we are truly to achieve a HIV free generation. Chief of HIV at UNICEF, Craig McClureemphasised this – ‘despite overall downward trends in HIV related deaths, 10-19 year olds are the only age group in which HIV related deaths continue to rise, and the rate of new infections in this group is not going down. What we need to be doing is putting more of an effort in to children and adolescents – beyond just improving access to testing and treatment services, what we’re realising now is that we need to pay attention to the issues that are important to young people. To make sure that they have access to comprehensive sexuality education and can live within societies that love and accept them for who they are’.
Beyond issues of HIV, youth leadership and participation in the policies and programs that affect young people is also essential if they are to contribute to their communities. ‘[Young people] need these things in order to thrive and survive and to have the opportunity to stop the problems of the world, to stop war and to make sure things like MH17 don’t continue to happen in the future’ Mr McClure said.
The Melbourne Youth Force are using the Youth Pre-Conference to develop a Youth Action Plan that will be handed to Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS at the Youth Symposium held as part of AIDS014 on Tuesday 22nd at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Plenary 1, 11am to 12.30pm.
For more information please contact Karen Salter, Media and Communications, Melbourne Youth Force on firstname.lastname@example.org.