A New Piece of Evidence that will Help all of us Advocate for Children and Adolescents Affected by HIV
The Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS has created a new report analysing how much funding is going to children and adolescents, where, on what and where the gaps are. You can download the report here. This report will help me, and my peers, advocate for more investment in adolescent parents and their children. It is a key piece of evidence. It shows more investment is needed to achieve changes that countries everywhere have committed to. And it shows that it is possible to know how much funding is going to children and adolescents, and where the gaps are.
I had my son when I was 15, and I am so proud of him. He is HIV free and growing up healthy and happy. I am living positively with HIV, adhering to my medication, and virally suppressed. I recently graduated from school, and set up a small business with my fellow young parents. And I am a peer educator with TEENS Uganda and UNYPA. I achieved all this despite the stigma and discrimination I experienced when I became pregnant.
Where I live in Uganda, and in many countries, adolescent parents, and our children, are often cast out from society. We are sometimes rejected by our families, friends, and communities; thrown out of school; harassed at health clinics; experience violence and abuse; and denied social and economic support. Most of us become pregnant because we don’t know about contraception or cannot access it; and we may not always know about our rights when it comes to sex. Many girls and young women have been raped. And COVID-19 has made things far worse.
We young parents are working together to overcome the challenges we face. We support each other emotionally. We share our problems, and address them. We help each other be informed about sexual and reproductive health and rights, to get tested for HIV and to stay on treatment. And we advocate for young parents and their children to be valued and prioritised by society.
We urgently need greater investment – from all sources – to ensure that adolescent parents and their children survive and thrive. And we must be supported to play our part in deciding where and how resources are spent; monitoring whether they are reaching those children and adolescents ordinarily left behind; and evaluating whether they are having an impact.
I urge other advocates to use this report to champion change for children and adolescents everywhere.
Miriam Hasasha, Young Mother Ambassador for the Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS and peer educator with TEENS Uganda and UNYPA shares her Foreword for the report.