An estimated 35.3 million people are living with HIV, of whom 5.4 million are young people. However, in the global response to HIV there is a massive gap in the support and the meaningful and engaged participation of youth living with HIV (YPLHIV).
Against this backdrop, in 2010, GNP+ established the Y+ Programme as a secretariat focal point for young people living with HIV. Since its creation the Y+ Programme has established itself as the global focal structure for issues pertaining to positive young people – consulting with and advocating for the needs of young people living with HIV.
Y+ Programme is coordinated from within the GNP+ Secretariat with guidance and support provided by the Y+ Advisory Group – a voluntary group of young people living with HIV, who have demonstrated a commitment and a connection to a constituency of YPLHIV within their region or community. The Advisory Group acts as a mechanism to facilitate the effective communication and networking of the broad community of YPLHIV across the world. The Y+ Advisory Group’s role is to support GNP+ to achieve the following objectives:
- To build and strengthen a global virtual network of YPLHIV
- To advocate for meaningful and engage YPLHIV participation in the global response to HIV
- To support the leadership and capacity building of YPLHIV
- To connect YPLHIV to support each other, share experiences, best practices and information
- To integrate YPLHIV into existing PLHIV networks, orgnisations and initiatives.
Currently the Y+ Advisory Group comprises of 28 members and structured in 4 working groups: Advocacy, Knowledge Management, Leadership and Sexual & Reproductive Health.
The work of Y+ Advisory Group and GNP+ has been focused on a number of priorities derived from a comprehensive consultation process. Meaningful involvement of YPLHIV is one of the priorities identified. Specific recommendations that were made in this area include;
- Research is needed to ascertain the levels to which YPLHIV are currently involved in networks of PLHIV (at all levels) and youth-led and serving organisations and initiatives and best practice developed accordingly.
- Develop guidelines directed towards networks of PLHIV and youth-led and youth serving organisations and initiatives, enabling the greater and more meaningful involvement of YPLHIV
- Support YPLHIV that are already engaged with networks of PLHIV and youth-led and serving organisations and initiatives, to strengthen programmes and ensure advocacy messages are responsive to the need of YPLHIV through strong networking across the YPLHIV community.
In 2012, based on GNP+ experience in facilitating the involvement of YPLHIV and the research it conducted in 2011 with 350 YPLHIV, 175 youth-led organisations and networks of people living with HIV worldwide, GNP+ developed the GIYPA Roadmap and the GIYPA Guidebook to support YPLHIV to be meaningfully involved in the HIV response and to support organisations and networks to scale up the meaningful involvement of YPLHIV respectively.