Sentebale Champions Youth Voices at AIDS2018
The Duke of Sussex joined Sentebale Let Youth Lead Advocates from Lesotho and Botswana at the 22nd International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2018) in Amsterdam on Monday 23rd July 2018.
The Duke met with young people, partner organisations and key influential leaders in the HIV response in his capacity as Patron of Sentebale. His Royal Highness’ participation at the AIDS 2018 conference advances the ambition of Sentebale’s advocacy programme, Let Youth Lead.
Launched in 2017, the programme provides a platform for youth to encourage to their peers to know and manage their HIV status, and to drive positive change in HIV interventions that better support the needs of this age group in their region.
“The younger generation not only have the solutions, they are the solution” said The Duke of Sussex during the first event of the day; a private youth-led session bringing together young people representing Sentebale, IAS Youth Ambassadors and partner NGOs to meet and talk in-depth in a private environment.
The session was led by four Sentebale Youth Advocates who addressed ways in which youth can empower themselves and their peer group to participate in, innovate and shape youth-friendly services and programmes. The group heard about the specific challenges and experiences of their peers, other young people affected by HIV, and spoke of solutions to better support the health of their generation.
Following the youth-led session, The Duke and two Sentebale Youth Advocates joined HIV Campaigner and Activist Mercy Ngulube for a discussion aired through the AIDS2018 Live Series.
Princess Mabel of Oranje later chaired a private meeting with key influential leaders in the HIV response, including Ambassador Birx from PEPFAR, Peter Sands from The Global Fund and AIDS 2018 International Chair Linda-Gail Bekker. At the meeting, Sentebale Youth Advocates and The Duke discussed some of the outcomes from the earlier Let Youth Lead session, shining a spotlight on the gaps in HIV response today for young people affected by the virus and educate decision makers in what it is like to live with HIV, beyond the health facility.
The meeting also served as an opportunity to gather insights from key leaders on successful approaches to working with youth, while simultaneously developing practical solutions and commitments to breaking down some of the barriers to accessing support and services for young people.
Peter Piot, Director of London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who attended the meeting commented, “it is always a privilege to hear from youth advocates as I am a firm believer that young people are the primary drivers of social change. Despite the rhetoric, the end of AIDS is not in sight and with the largest-ever generation of adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa, we need to ensure that young people are at the centre of our efforts and involved in decision-making every step of the way.”
We must work together to ensure that no one is left behind in the global response to HIV and in our journey toward sustainable development for all. The fantastic work of Sentebale and their Co-Founding Patron HRH The Duke of Sussex is vital to this end.”
During the meeting, His Royal Highness emphasized the need to step up adolescent engagement in programming and decision-making, and urged the key decision makers in the HIV response to listen to youth in meaningful and profound ways. Sentebale Youth Advocates highlighting this may involve uncomfortable or unfamiliar conversations about adolescents’ rights, consent, autonomy and sexuality, but often these can underpin the most transformative initiatives.