As governments around the world negotiate what commitments they will make to end AIDS, a new campaign is launched to put #YoungFamiliesFirst
The Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS and the READY MOVEMENT (co-led by PATA, Y+ Global, Frontline AIDS, and REPSSI) today launch a new global campaign to mobilise decision-makers at all levels – from families and communities to global policy makers – to prioritise and empower adolescent parents affected by HIV and their children. This campaign comes at a critical time when governments around the world are negotiating a new global Political Declaration on HIV at the UN.
The campaign urges us all to take action to empower adolescent parents affected by HIV and their children; to end stigma and discrimination against them; to support them at school, at health clinics, at home, and in the community; to include them in key decision-making; and to support them as agents of change. The campaign features young mothers and fathers and those who work alongside them describing in their own words what it takes to put #YoungFamiliesFirst.
Young mothers, young fathers, health workers, community-based organisations, NGOs, donors, advocates, policy makers, governments, academia and other key stakeholders are invited to add their voice to the campaign by amplifying on social media, joining the ‘Champions’ Network’, and using the many resources provided to advocate for young families affected by HIV and AIDS. For more information, visit bit.ly/YoungFamiliesFirst
HIV & Early Pregnancy
Adolescent parents affected by HIV, and their children, are a critical and growing population that need more support if we are to end AIDS and achieve many of the Sustainable Development Goals. There were 1.8 million children and 1.8 million adolescents living with HIV in 2019. 76% of new infections amongst those aged 10-19 were amongst girls. Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region with the highest HIV
burden. It also has a large population of adolescent and young mothers, many of whom live in adverse conditions. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic there were an estimated 11.4 million adolescent mothers in Sub-Saharan Africa. Preliminary evidence suggests that this figure is now far higher, as COVID-19 has led to increases in early and unintended pregnancy, in part due to to rape during lockdowns.
Increased Vulnerability Across the Sustainable Development Goals
These girls and young women, and their children, are at greater risk of HIV infection as well as poverty, violence, exclusion, poor education, and early childhood developmental delays that limit generations across a lifetime. Stigma and discrimination often prevents them from accessing HIV, health, education and other services, and can cause them to be rejected by their own families and communities. Young fathers are also a critical population that is often left behind. They too face challenges, and play a vital role in addressing those faced by young mothers and their children.
Now is the Time to Take Action
2021 is a critical year for this campaign. Governments from around the world are currently negotiating what commitments to HIV-affected people they will make in a new Political Declaration, to be finalised at the High Level Political Meeting on HIV at the United Nations 8-10 June. Meanwhile, the Global Fund is developing its new 5 year strategy; and the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board is negotiating what
resources and implementation frameworks will accompany its new 5-year Global AIDS Strategy.
The #YoungFamiliesFirst campaign provides resources for all of us to take action anywhere. All of us – mothers, fathers, young people, donors, policy makers, government officials, NGO representatives, health practitioners, community leaders, academics – we are all encouraged to:
• Raise awareness on social media using the toolkit provided
• Review the advocacy agenda provided and use it to inform our own policies and practices
• Write to our government or community representative using the template advocacy letter provided
• Join the Champions’ Network – a new community of advocates that will receive regular updates
• Use the programming resources provided to deliver support to young families
• Add the campaign E-signature to our emails
All of this, and more, is available at: bit.ly/YoungFamiliesFirst
The #YoungFamiliesFirst campaign will launch in the week of 17th May with a series of blogs, quotes, audio soundbites and videos from adolescent parents affected by HIV from around the world and those who work alongside them. These will be promoted across all major social media platforms for 7 days and lead the reader to a campaign page: bit.ly/YoungFamiliesFirst – where they can find out how to take action.
Luann Hatane, Executive Director of PATA is one of the co-sponsors of the campaign: “If we are to end AIDS for children and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, we need clear and decisive leadership that puts young families affected by HIV first. This population needs to be prioritised and is in great need of support at the policy level and within local communities. We must keep adolescent parents and their children in school, and ensure that they have access to comprehensive HIV and health services, and are linked to psychosocial support. We must value young families as integral members of society. The challenges they face have been exacerbated by COVID-19 and the time to act is now.”
Miriam Hasasha, Young Mother in Uganda and Ambassador to the Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS: “I am supporting this campaign to tell people everywhere – from my local community to global policy makers – to put young families first. Young parents and our children can beat HIV and thrive in life. But, we need to be empowered rather than discriminated against.”
Please contact Ashton Josephs, Communications and Administration Adviser to the Coalition for more information. Email: email@example.com
— Notes to Editors —
The Regional Psychosocial Support Initiatives (REPSSI) is a renowned pan African organisation that has been providing holistic psychosocial care and support to girls, boys and the youth in East and Southern Africa. The organisation was founded in 2002. The programmes are spread across 13 countries and aim to
respond to the psychosocial, mental health and social protection needs of children and families affected by: HIV, conflict, poverty and social strife. Programmes are delivered through partnerships with regional bodies, national governments and non-governmental organisations. REPSSI is renowned for the development of high quality, evidence-informed psychosocial support tools and resources, which are
used globally within programmes and services for children, youth, families and communities. Through their programmes, children and youth who enjoy psychosocial and mental wellbeing are able to thrive, respond to life’s shocks and challenges and find opportunities in a complex and fast-changing world.
Y+ is the Global network for young people living with HIV. They provide ethical empowerment ensuring excellence in leadership, education, and engagement in spaces that impact our lives. They work to achieve the best quality of life for all Young People Living with HIV and aspire to develop a Global Network of Young People Living with HIV to serve both the Young People Living with HIV and the
interests of the wider communities globally.
Frontline AIDS have been on the frontline of the world’s response to HIV for 27 years, working with marginalised people who are denied HIV prevention and treatment simply because of who they are and where they live. Set up in 1993 to work with community groups in the countries most affected by the global AIDS epidemic, they have continually adapted their approach, looking for innovative ways to breakdown the barriers that marginalise people living with, or at risk of acquiring, HIV. All with one goal in mind – a future free from AIDS for everyone, everywhere. Everything they do is rooted in our two key beliefs: That the lives of all human beings are of equal value. That everyone has the right to access the HIV information and services they need for a healthy life.
PATA is an action network of health providers and health facilities in sub-Saharan Africa. Their goal is to effect positive change in paediatric and adolescent HIV policy and service delivery on the frontline. The PATA network offers a powerful platform for regional collaboration, capacity building and peer-to-peer exchange – closing gaps and building bridges for linking, learning and partnership in the
paediatric-adolescent HIV response. PATA aims to achieve the following on the frontline of paediatric and adolescent HIV service delivery: Build and support an engaged network of health providers, facilities and communities. Facilitate platforms for linking and learning to share knowledge and promising practices.
Champion innovative and targeted paediatric and adolescent HIV service delivery models. Generate, collate and disseminate evidence and collaborate in joint advocacy initiatives and partnerships
READY exists so that young people lead on designing and implementing health programmes. READY is a portfolio of programmes which are designed to build Resilient and Empowered Adolescents and Young people (READY). Young people all over the world can join the READY movement to demand their right to a healthy life, whatever their circumstances, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. Young people helped create the READY movement in order to expand the READY portfolio. Today, they remainat its core. The READY Movement is led by the Global Network of Young People living with HIV (Y+ Global), with support from Frontline AIDS and its partners.
The Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS
Founded in 2004, The Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS (The Coalition) www.childrenandHIV.org is a unique, independent group of thought-leaders from across the donor, UN, non-governmental, and academic communities. Each Member is a highly influential expert in their particular field – from sexual and reproductive health, maternal and child health, to HIV – with the connections and gravitas to impact global policy change. We advocate together at the global level for the rights of children and adolescents left behind by the HIV and broader development response. This includes adolescent mothers and their children, and the children of key populations and other children, adolescents and families facing social and structural exclusion. We are committed to enabling them, and all children and adolescents affected by HIV, to survive and thrive across the HIV targets and the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Coalition supports its Members to achieve far greater impact and to speak with one strong voice. We share and review cutting edge evidence to identify what works. And plan together activities to advocate for global policy change. These include, high-level conferences and events, global research, communications campaigns, and strategic outreach to key decision-makers. We use our unique
convening power to bring together different sectors and stakeholders around a common agenda. The voices of children and communities directly affected by HIV are prominent in all that we do. Our Members and Steering Committee include caregivers living with HIV. We speak alongside our Ambassadors – Dudu, a sex worker from South Africa and Miriam a teenage mother from Uganda. And we regularly consult with excluded children, adolescents and caregivers around the world to shape our work.
— End —