Caribbean youth leaders will meet for the next two days to discuss their role in the national and regional response to combatting HIV and AIDS, as they work towards formulating and agreeing on a framework for regional youth advocacy.
The Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP) will be hosting the forum in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on April 21 and 22, 2017.
News Room today (Wednesday, April 19, 2017), spoke to PANCAP Youth Advisor, Dr. Astell Collins who said the meeting is about better equipping young people through their peers to advocate when it comes to the issue of sexual and reproductive health and HIV and AIDS.
“We believe we have to prepare young people, but they are the ones who being brought to the table to inform the framework. So it is not a case whereby as happen before where you have adults saying what should be done, you have young people who experience these challenges so they can tell you from how they would have experienced, how they would have expected and what can be done to eradicate and elevate that that type of challenge and hindrance,” Dr. Collins said.
He clarified that it is not necessarily that the CARICOM Unit will not be putting forward a framework, but getting the young people to contribute. “So, it is designed to give in-depth discussions on how do young people see it and they bringing the challenges that they are faced with and certain solution” he noted.
Dr. Collins said stigma and discrimination, violations of human rights and gender-based violence continue to hinder access to services for young people in general.
He also explained that the meeting will become an annual feature by PANCAP over the next three years, in addition to greater exposure for youth leaders to influence policies that directly affect them.
The programme also includes a youth advocacy training which should start in September. The PANCAP Youth Advisor said the body will also facilitate the participation of youth leaders in High-Level meetings to influence policy decisions. There is also the development of a Youth Advocacy Network throughout the Caribbean, he added.
At the end of the meeting, participants should understand what knowledge and tools they require to protect themselves from HIV along with the consensus on the key elements of a framework for regional youth advocacy.
International studies have hinted that the HIV figures among key populations such as sex workers, men who have sex with men and young people remain high.