By Jeffry Acaba, Asia Pacific NGO Delegate
To ensure the meaningful involvement of key populations and making their voices count in the development of the updated UNAIDS Strategy 2016-2021, UNAIDS conducted a series of consultations coinciding with the Asia-Pacific Intergovernmental Meeting on HIV/AIDS (IGM on HIV) in the last week of January 2015. The consultations sought to explore regional perspectives and priorities on what it would take to achieve the Fast Track targets, including the 90-90-90, particularly in the Asian and the Pacific contexts.
Two rounds of consultations were held: the first was during the IGM youth caucus on January 26, 2015, and the second during the Civil Society Forum on the 27th. Twenty-four youth activists from 12 countries in Asia and the Pacific participated in the youth consultation.
The discussions on the updated UNAIDS Strategy revolved around two areas: (1) what needs to be done by young people to claim the decision-making spaces over the next five years and how can UNAIDS help; and (2) to achieve the Fast Track targets, what are the priorities and game changers that need to be focused on from the perspective of young people.
Meaningful youth participation and addressing legal and policy environments as critical barriers to accessing HIV and SRH services were two main priorities identified by the participants. These include investing in building leadership and organizational capacities among young peoples’ movements, and integration of SRH and HIV to achieve common goals. At the same time, they emphasized UNAIDS as an important entity that can bridge governments and civil society organizations and can facilitate sharing between young change makers through publications. Young people from key populations in Asia and the Pacific also recommended that in order to address the stigma that they experience and in order to influence change in laws and policies, large-scale anti-stigma campaigns should be done at the country level.
In terms of priorities and game changers, the youth participants identified measurable indicators such as allocating a number of seats and providing opportunities for leadership for young key populations, having more disaggregated data on young people and adolescent key populations, and providing core funding and sustainability support to YKP-led organizations. This support to core-funding echoes Executive Director Sidibe’s statement to increase support to civil society organizations three-fold, made during the 35th PCB meeting.
The youth participants also proposed for UNAIDS to have country office youth officers or technical experts to support YKP-led organizations to advocate earmarking investments locally, and in ensuring that governments are held accountable.
Outputs of the consultation, which were also presented at the UNAIDS Strategy 2021 Side Event during the IGM, mirror regional advocacy agenda also reflected in the ACT!2015 Asia (access here). This regional agenda serves as the blueprint of participating organizations and networks in ensuring that HIV remains a priority in the post-2015 development agenda.