Launch of Youth movement to contribute the National HIV response in Pakistan
Islamabad, September 2015: The Association of People Living with HIV [APLHIV] –Pakistan a nationwide network of HIV community & associated Key Affected Populations in the country, disseminated the findings of the study on “The Needs of Young People Living with HIV and Young Key Populations aging from 15 to 24 years of age” followed by the launch of Youth “Y” Chapter. The Y Chapter, the first young key populations and young people living with HIV platform in the country, aims to create avenues where the young people exercise their rights for healthy, dignified and respectful lives, and become leaders to advocate with the concerned authority to address the findings of the study and influence policies, programs that influence their lives. CEO Nai Zindagi, Mr. Tariq Zafar, in his opening remarks- appreciated the study, which is of first kind in the country, and he stated the launching of Y Chapter as a milestone in shaping the HIV response.
Asghar Ilyas Satti, National Coordinator and Uzair Tariq Project Officer of the APLHIV disseminated the report and launched the Y chapter in Islamabad in a gathering of over 50 stakeholders representing youth community, National AIDS Control program (NACP) Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation & Coordination, UNAIDS, UNICEF, WHO, UNDP, UNODC, Global Fund Unit, Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM), Provincial Program Managers, members of HIV community, board members of APLHIV and major civil society leaders.
Youth LEAD, the Asia and the Pacific Network of Young Key Populations, through the funding provided by Robert Carr Network Fund, supported the study and the initiation of Y chapter. Thaw Zin Aye, the Regional Coordinator of Youth LEAD remotely congratulated APLHIV for supporting this endeavor to initiate the network of young key populations and young people living with HIV in Pakistan, which reflects the adult- youth partnership to empower and provide platform for the young people. Youth LEAD remains supportive to enhance the capacity of Y Chapter for sustained advocacy in Pakistan.
The study aimed to appraise the needs and current situation of young PLHIV and members of young key populations in regards to access HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services and their human right situation. Out of 300 respondents 223 were from major cities, 36 from towns and 41 from villages. Over all 86.3% were found to be engaged in risky behaviors, maximum risky behavior was noted among the people aging from 21 to 24 years of age. Over 92% thought risky behaviors to be a cause of HIV infection, where as 53% were of the opinion that injecting drugs increases the risk of HIV infection. 58% of the respondents were reported to be sharing the syringes. Extremely high level of stigma and discrimination was recorded during the study. Over 50% had some kind of difficulty in exercising their human rights while 54% of the respondents felt that society should play its role for reduction of stigma and discrimination.
The study highly recommended for the following measures
- Develop a national strategy for HIV prevention, treatment, care and support for young people, especially young key populations and young people living with HIV, lobbying to incorporate same in provincial AIDS strategies,
- Abolish age restrictions in HIV services delivery
- Meaningful involvement of young people at policy and decision-making levels.
- Youth friendly services and spaces for communication
- Develop and adopt anti-discrimination and stigma measures to protect the rights of the young people
Establishment of Common Avenue for young people to discuss and advocate their issues at provincial and national level. Y Chapter is aimed to mobilize young people from infected and affected communities to develop skilled and empowered leaders to contribute to the national response to HIV and voice out the issues of young people. This will be the first Youth Network consisting of key populations and young people living with HIV in Pakistan. While addressing the gathering Country Director UNDP-Pakistan, Mr. Marc Andery, congratulated APLHIV highlighting the study and the launching of Y Chapter as an historic event. Addressing the closing ceremony National Program Manager NACP, Dr. Baseer Khan Achakzai, thanked the APLHIV for providing him with a chance to have interaction with young people and assured that the recommendation of the study would be materialized into an action plan and implemented accordingly. He formally announced the launching of Y Chapter and also assured that government notification shall be issued soon. He assured of full ownership from government for the Y Chapter. Earlier addressing the gathering Dr. Rajwal (UNAIDS), Dr. Sofia and Dr. Quaid (NACP), Dr. Nasir Sarfraz (UNICEF), Dr. Kakar (WHO), Anne (UNODC), Dr. Sajid (CCM), Mr. Rashid, Dr. Younis, Dr. Fareed Sumlani and Dr. Atta (Provincial AIDS Control Program Managers) and community activists appreciated the collaboration between APLHIV and Youth LEAD to undertake the study and launch the Y Chapter. The speakers declared this initiative a major step forward for the empowerment of young people and congratulated the APLHIV this milestone.
To learn more about APLHIV and Y Chapter visit the website at www.theaplhiv.org.pk and www.facebook.com/APLHIV or contact Asghar Satti: [email@example.com] and Uzair Tariq [Zaire_89@hotmail.com] To learn more about Youth LEAD and its current programs and initiatives, visit their website at http://www.youth- lead.org and https://www.facebook.com/youthleadAP or contact us at, firstname.lastname@example.org.