HIV and young people – it’s not just about more condoms

Julie Mellin
Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Brooklyn, NY, USA

The number of adolescents and young people today is at an all-time high. There are more than 1.8 billion young people in the world, 90% of whom live in developing countries, where they tend to make up a large proportion of the population [1]. It is estimated that five million young people aged 15–24 and two million adolescents aged 10–19 are living with HIV [2]. Yet young people, particularly those living with HIV and affected by HIV (those most likely to be exposed to HIV, such as young LGBT people, young people who do sex work, and young men who have sex with men), continue to lack access to much-needed sexual and reproductive health services, including integrated HIV treatment and prevention services. They are excluded from or uncomfortable accessing services and information because of structural and cultural factors inextricably linked to their age, HIV status, sexual orientation or gender identity, or on the basis of sex work or drug use [3]. Vital information on sexuality, HIV transmission and legal protection is already difficult to access as a young person. As a young person whose sexuality, work or HIV status has been criminalised or shamed, that access can be removed completely. Read more. . .