With HIV infections in youth continue to remain high, Advocates for Youth is launching a new project—the first annual National Youth HIV and AIDS Awareness Day, which will take place on April 10.
Sexual and health education in schools is too often inadequate or nonexistent, and youth are paying for it, the organization said. The statistics published on Amplify Your Voice are staggering.
In the United States, one in four new HIV infections occurs in youth between the ages of 13 and 24. Monthly, 1,000 youth are infected with HIV, and across the country, there are over 76,000 young people living with the virus, with 60% unaware they are infected.
Without a cure in sight, the dream of a world without AIDS can only happen if there is a generation without it, says the campaign.
The president of Advocates for Youth, Debra Hauser, told 429Magazine, “We need to create spaces where it’s OK for a young person to ask questions about their sexuality and their sexual health… for them to be supported in getting tested for STDs and HIV without them being shamed.”
To help make that happen, the first National Youth HIV and AIDS Awareness Day will consist of events in multiple states aiming to educate the general public. The official site encourages those too far away to hold their own event, and offers activist resources to help.
To reach the widest audience possible, the events planned so far will be not only on high school and college campuses, but in churches and community centers, as well as some online activities.
The current generation is the first to have grown up in a time where HIV and AIDS were always a concern regarding public health, but that same generation also missed the days when it was an automatic death sentence. The visibility of people living with AIDS has, ironically, resulted in many youth considering it nothing to be all that concerned about, and the fact that HIV and AIDS still have no cure has done nothing to raise general alarm levels, something the campaign aims to curtail despite current headlines.
The goal of National Youth HIV and AIDS Awareness Day is to change perceptions by educating youth on how their specific demographic is affected. Event tables will also have information on resources such as where to get counseling and support services, as well as providing condoms and HIV testing for anyone interested.