© 2010 Basri Marzuki, Courtesy of Photoshare.
Today’s young people are the first generation that has never known a world without HIV, and they account for 40% of all new HIV infections. Each day, more than 2,400 young people become infected with HIV—and some 5 million young people ages 15 to 24 are living with HIV. Young women and girls living with HIV, young people who engage in sex work, young men who have sex with men, young transgender people, and young people who use drugs are among the most marginalized youth in the world. They experience extreme difficulties accessing services due to high levels of stigma, discrimination, violence, and, in some cases, fear of arrest. This makes them highly vulnerable to HIV, sexually transmitted infections, unwanted pregnancies, and severe human rights violations.
The Link Up project that my organization is part of works in Bangladesh, Burundi, Ethiopia, Myanmar and Uganda, to improve the sexual and reproductive health of young people most affected by HIV and to help them realize their sexual and reproductive rights. The project is implemented based on the principle that young people themselves have the power, through their own leadership, to bring an end to AIDS.