Young people are the ‘window of hope’ in changing the course of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Preventing HIV infections among them is vital. Of the 40 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, one third are aged 15-24 years and roughly half were infected during their youth 1.
This makes it imperative that young people be at the center of prevention actions, both in focus and in involvement, to ultimately halt the pandemic.
As many behavioural lifestyles are formed during the early adolescent years, and as acquisition of HIV in young people is predominantly through sexual activities, this period in life provides the opportune time to positively influence behaviours, choices and lifestyles that will hopefully last into adulthood.
Young people are our future and preventing HIV infections among them – NOW – represents sound investment for the future. In response, UNFPA has identified the prevention of HIV infection among young people as one of its strategic areas of focus (along with preventing HIV infection in pregnant women and comprehensive condom programming).
Within the context of reproductive health, UNFPA must strive to build on and expand programmes that promote healthy adolescent development and ensure among sexually active young people, safer and responsible sexual behaviour. By doing this, UNFPA will help ensure young people are dually protected against STI/HIV infections and unwanted pregnancies.