It takes only 30 seconds for another person between the ages of 10-19 to be diagnosed with HIV. In total, 2.1 million adolescents are currently living with the disease. While work is being done to combat HIV/AIDS for all ages, many people do not know that a particularly vulnerable population it affects is adolescents.
Globally, only 20 percent of girls and 29 percent of boys ages 15-19 fully understand all the ways the disease can be transmitted. That is why President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta and big organizations like NAIDS; UNICEF; UNFPA; WHO; PEPFAR; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; the MTV Staying Alive Foundation and the HIV Young Leaders Fund on behalf of the PACT and Y+ are “all in” on a new campaign meant to lower the HIV/AIDS rate in the youth population—called “All In.”
Those involved with “All In” have several motivations for this initiative. AIDS is not only the leading cause of death among adolescents in Africa, but the second leading cause of death globally, which Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS, referred to as a “moral injustice.” In addition, only one in four people under 15 have access to any kind of treatment for HIV.
“All In” hopes awareness will spread by creating hashtags: #AllIn and #EndAdolescentAIDS. Hashtags are typically used by adolescents themselves, so it could very well be teenagers helping out their fellow teenagers around the globe.
“We need to reach the adolescents we are missing and engage all young people in the effort to end adolescent AIDS,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “In fact, we cannot achieve the goal of an AIDS-free generation without them.” So far, youths have shown they are on board: 200 young people from various organizations were present at the official launch of “All In.”
The ultimate goal for “All In” is to eradicate adolescent HIV/AIDS diagnoses entirely by 2030. They plan to do this by increasing prevention and treatment and, of course, getting the information out. Whether it is through trips around the globe or a simple tweet, lives can change by merely speaking up.
– Melissa Binns