ATHENA Network and the Global Youth Coalition on HIV and AIDS (GYCA) are pleased to share three new issue briefs developed by adolescents and young people for adolescents and young people, in the Link Up Visions, Voices and Priorities series:

  • Young people talk about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)
  • Young people talk about self testing
  • Adolescents talk about access to HIV treatment and care

A global youth SRHR-HIV consultation carried out by ATHENA and GYCA in 2013, during the start-up phase of the Link Up project, formed the cornerstone of Link Up global and national policy advocacy priorities and messages. Key findings were reported in Visions, Voices and Priorities.

As we drew towards the end of the Link Up project in 2016, we wanted to update the original consultation by including young people’s views and experiences regarding some of the new technologies, modalities or priority issues emerging in the HIV response, that were not explicitly included in the original consultation. Youth and adolescent dialogues were carried out in all five Link Up countries, led by young people living with and most affected by HIV, and selected according to the perceived priority issues for each country. Standalone issue briefs were developed from each of the dialogue topics. A total of 108 adolescents and young people (54 F / 48 M / 4 TG) took part in the dialogues, including 34 adolescents and young people who sell sex ; 31 adolescent and young men who have sex with men; and 27 young people living with HIV.

While PrEP is not yet available in any of the Link Up countries (Bangladesh, Burundi, Ethiopia, Myanmar and Uganda), the HIV world is mobilizing around PrEP roll-out and it is paramount that young people -- especially young people from key affected populations -- should be part of these conversations, both as potential PrEP users, community educators, advocates and peer navigators / supporters. Read the PrEP issue brief here.

Self testing is already widely used in some settings, but has limited availability in other parts of the world. With UNAIDS' 90-90-90 and Fast Track highlighting the centrality of HIV testing as the first entry point to treatment and eventually viral load suppression, a range of testing modalities to suit different people and different circumstances is needed. Stigma and discrimination and fear of involuntary disclosure still create a significant barrier to testing, especially for young people from key affected populations. And the direct and indirect costs of taking time out for regular HIV testing, can also be prohibitive. Could self testing provide an attractive and convenient alternative for young people? Read the self-testing issue brief here.

And, while HIV-related mortality is declining for the general population, it continues to rise among adolescents. Globally, HIV-related mortality is the second highest cause of death among adolescents, and in sub-Saharan Africa, the highest. There is an urgent obligation to address and reverse this trend. Adolescents need the information, awareness, and autonomy to make and enact decisions around their own health, with support from a range of stakeholders, including parents, teachers, and service providers, and much greater understanding is needed of the complex needs, rights and desires of adolescent people with regard to accessing HIV treatment and retention in care, promotion of their sexual and reproductive health and rights, and support with transitioning to adult services. Read the adolescent treatment issue brief here.