About the Mexico YouthForce
Young People and HIV
Key Messages of the Mexico YouthForce
What is advocacy?
Advocacy can be described as an effort to change public perceptions and influence policy decisions and funding priorities. At times, the policies of governments, institutions, or organizations are set up in ways that create barriers, harm, or other injustices for individuals or groups of people. Advocates educate about an issue and also propose specific solutions. Simply put, advocacy is supporting a certain cause and working to get others to support is as well.
There are many ways to advocate for an issue. The important thing is to know what you want to achieve, who you need to convince, and how you can motivate them to do what you believe is necessary. Once you know this, you can put together your strategy for change.
Young people around the world are working to create positive change to stop the spread of HIV and improve the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS. This includes a wide range of issues such as increasing young people’s access to HIV treatment and evidence-based HIV prevention, implementing poverty reduction measures such as employment training, creating and funding needle exchange programs, and ensuring that women are able to own property and that sexual assault laws are enforced.
Advocacy at the International AIDS Conference
The International AIDS Conference (IAC) in Mexico City is an opportunity to advocate for change in your local community, country, region, or across the globe. The conference hosts a unique environment for advocates: major decisions and directions are set at the Conference and world leaders, scientists, government officials, funders, celebrities, and media are all present in the same place.
You will have opportunities to interact with people at the Conference who you would simply not have access to in your home country. This increases your ability to get your issue on their radar and hopefully on their list of priorities. And this, in turn, can increase your ability to create change back home.
The YouthForce is an example of how advocacy at IACs can create positive changes for young people. While youth aged 15-24 compose up to half of new HIV infections, the IAC did not always make an effort to help young people get to the Conference and share their issues with the world. For example, in Barcelona, there were only 200 people under age 30 among the 15,000 delegates! The Barcelona and Bangkok YouthForces brought the importance of young people’s participation to the attention of the Conference organizers and they advocated for the greater inclusion of youth. Young people are now involved in planning the Conference, delivering presentations, recording the Conference proceedings, and participating as delegates.
For more information on advocacy at the conference please read the Principles and Values of Conference Participation.
Results from the MYF Advocacy Strategy: the 2008 ADVOCACY E-CONSULTATION
For AIDS 2006, the Toronto YouthForce's Advocacy Taskforce organized an e-consultation to brainstorm and discuss advocacy messages and strategy to be implemented during the Conference. This report summarizes the opinions of 218 youth from over 36 countries on the most important steps to take to scale up HIV/AIDS interventions for youth.
Final Summary Report of the Toronto Advocacy E- Consultation for the Toronto YouthForce
Read here: E-consultation Final Report
The Mexico YouthForce’s Advocacy Taskforce undertook its e-consultation for AIDS 2008 from March 3- 21, 2008. The e-consultation sought to gather recommendations for the MYF’s advocacy message, strategy, and materials from both young people who will and will not be attending the conference. There were 125 young participants in the e-consultation, from 46 countries. Participants were also asked to consult with their peers who do not have access to internet to include their opinions on what issues need to be included. The e-consultation has produced concrete advocacy messages and strategies that young people can use effectively to hold their governments and other decision-makers accountable to commitments they have already made and to encourage them to do even more to create, implement, and fund effective HIV/AIDS interventions for youth. The advocacy messages will form the basis of a youth visibility campaign with posters, stickers, t-shirts, conference sessions, and pre-conference advocacy training.
Youth-Adult Commitments Desk
At the XVI Toronto International AIDS Conference in August, 2006, the Toronto YouthForce and the AIDS 2006 Youth Programme hosted an unprecedented initiative: the Youth-Adult Commitments Desk. The Desk was a place where decision-makers could make a concrete and time-bound commitment on how they planned to involve young people and scale up their interventions for and with young people. There were a total of 344 commitments made from 63 different countries. Some notable commitments were:
- "I commit to ensuring that the UN system will get its act together and respond cohesively to safeguard the rights of young people. I will promote inclusion of young people at the decision-making table in issues that affect their lives. I will also start a youth internship program at UNAIDS." - Dr. Peter Piot, Executive Director and Under-Secretary General of UNAIDS
- "I commit to bringing 13 African young women to the 17th IAC in Mexico City in 2008 in honour of the '13' campaign." - Stephen Lewis, UN Envoy Stephen Lewis Foundation
- "For AIDS 2008 in Mexico, I commit to double the number of young people." – The Honorable Dr. Frenk, Minister of Health, Mexico
Members of the Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS followed up with committers after the Conference, and report that 25% of the commitments were achieved. The Youth Adults Commitments Desk will be replicated at AIDS2008, and will showcase the profiles of committers who’ve kept their promises youth.