Asia Pacific Youth Forum
17 Countries. 150 Delegates. 1 Shared Vision.
Youth at the front of the HIV response: Engaging in meaningful partnerships to meet the 90-90-90 targets in the region
The Asia Pacific Youth Forum was held on the 2-3 December in Bangkok, Thailand and was co-organized by the Ministry of Public Health Thailand together with UNAIDS Asia Pacific, UNICEF EAPRO, UNDP, UNFPA APRO, UNWOMEN, Youth LEAD and the IATT. Youth LEAD, UNAIDS RST, UNICEF EAPRO and UNDP took the lead in organizing the forum on behalf of the IATT. The forum brought together 150 delegates from 17 countries, including former heads of states, government officials, UN representatives, health professionals and young people to explore the ways in which young people are at the front of the HIV response and how to establish meaningful partnerships to meet the 90-90-90 targets in the region.
The event was formally opened by the Deputy Minister of Public Health of Thailand, Mr. Satit Pitu-techa, highlighting the value of enabling youth to lead and influence the response to HIV. The meeting provided an opportunity to review the HIV treatment cascade among young people, including young key populations, identify gaps and innovative solutions through young population centred approaches. The critical need for young people's engagement in the HIV response was reiterated throughout the event. A set of recommendations were presented for future efforts between governments and young people to get to zero new HIV infections, zero related deaths and zero discrimination.
Two important documents were launched at the forum. First, ‘Power to the People’, a report from UNAIDS emphasized the importance of community engagement, including young people living with and affected by HIV, in decision-making and HIV service delivery. The report highlights the critical need to support community organizations in expanding access to antiretroviral therapy, supporting adherence to treatment and reaching the people most affected by #HIV. The report contains case studies and best practices with respect to community engagement in the HIV response in Thailand, India, Myanmar, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The report can be found on http://bit.ly/2pXVj0O
Second, ‘Looking out for Adolescents and Youth from Key Populations in Asia-Pacific. Formative assessment on the needs of adolescents and youth at risk of HIV: case studies from Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam’ were launched. This joint formative assessment led by UNICEF in collaboration with the IATT looked at experiences and key contexts of HIV risk and prevention, and broader sexual and reproductive health and rights (#SRHR). The findings of the assessment will support strategic planning to strengthen local and national responses to the HIV epidemic with a youth-driven approach. View the report here: http://bit.ly/2rWC6wT
Key highlights from the forum also included youth being able to present posters at the market place and to HRH Princess Soamsawali Krom Muen Suddhanarinatha, UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador for HIV Prevention for Asia and the Pacific, and HRH Princess Bajrakitiyabha Narendira Debyavati. Additionally, youth presenters and speakers from the forum were awarded a special gift for their efforts by HRH Princess Soamsawali. Other highlights from the forum include a market place session and a consultation titled ‘2020 and beyond Joint Plan of Action towards accelerated action to reach the 90-90-90 for adolescents and young people’ were held back to back to the Asia-Pacific Youth Forum. Youth representatives developed a work plan based on the recommendations from the Asia-Pacific Youth Forum and the Formative Assessment on Young Key Populations. Youth leaders explored ways in which they can engage with national governments and UN agencies to meet the 90-90-90 targets and identified opportunities to actively participate in decision-making processes at the country level.
More importantly, the Asia Pacific Youth Forum symbolized the first of many accomplishments for the IATT. The forum brought together individuals from all different professional-levels, including members of the Thai Royal Family. The forum was diverse in the national representation of young people and senior officials. Likewise, youth were given the opportunity to showcase the impact of their work at the national level. It was an opportunity for many young people to network and establish meaningful friendships but more importantly, allowed youth to share best practices and specific examples of areas for HIV prevention, treatment and care. Additionally, the co-organizers of the forum (IATT) were able to synergies in their efforts to deliver a successful forum and strengthen the partnership between its members and for future projects to come.
Edited by: Eddy Rudram, Communication Officer at Youth LEAD