Creating a different international HIV response for young people

This paper demonstrates that certain notions of young people in the HIV and AIDS response reveal an overly generalised understanding of ‘youth’ that does not reflect a realistic view of young people's identity and lives. Faulty stereotypes of ‘youth’ – such as the perceptions that young people are necessarily victims or risk-takers – result in many HIV programmes based on generalisations about young people, rather than their actual needs and realities. These stereotypes and generalisations dominate million dollar prevention programmes that have little effect on HIV incidence rates amongst young people.

To create a different future for young people and achieve real and lasting change, this paper recommends three discrete but interrelated actions for the international HIV community to undertake now; to base programmes on definitions of young people that emerge from the setting in which the programme will be implemented; to ensure HIV prevention programming is targeted at specific groups of young people, rather than a ‘one-size-fits-all’ package; and to incorporate structural approaches into AIDS programming to address the underlying factors that make younger age groups more vulnerable to HIV – including age-related stigma, discrimination and human rights abuses.

Year of publication: 
Health and HIV
Caitlin L. Chandler