Mali Youth Summit 15-17 April: The Start of a Youth Movement

20 April 2011

“This Call to Action departs from business as usual. These are not recommendations; these are demands from young people who are already leading the AIDS response in their communities. We are young people who know the realities of our peers and the challenges they face. But we are also the young people with the potential to bring about sustainable change.”

This is how the Call to Action, devised at the Mali Youth Summit from 15-17 April, begins. With over 70 countries represented, 150 participants and 20 hours of sharing, negotiations, drafting and writing, this Call to Action document is not just a piece of paper. It’s a movement. And it’s a movement that involves you.

Globally, only 35% of young people (aged 15-24) have accurate knowledge of HIV/AIDS. In addition, young key affected populations are too often marginalized. They suffer from stigma, discrimination and a lack access to appropriate services. It is imperative to recognize and address the needs of YKAP in order to create sustainable change in the HIV/AIDS epidemic. If YKAP continue to be left off the agenda, then Zero New Infections, Zero AIDS Related Deaths and Zero Stigma and Discrimination will remain a vision rather than an achieved reality.

As young people, it is our responsibility to take action on behalf of our peers and on behalf of YKAP. As the President of Mali, Amadou Toumani Toure, said in his address at the Summit opening, “You, the youngsters, have the give an example yourselves and be the fighters against HIV/AIDS. And when governments don’t give the floor to young people, you must take the floor yourselves."

It is time for young people to take action and lead the HIV/AIDS response.

There are less than 50 days until the United Nations High Level meetings on HIV/AIDS from 8-10 June. Young people must stand up to ensure that our voices are heard at these meetings.

Read and endorse the Call to Action. Join the youth movement against HIV/AIDS to guarantee young people and YKAP are firmly on the agenda, both at the UN High Level meetings and in the HIV/AIDS response.

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