11 Nov 2011

The Southern and Eastern Africa Youth Conference on HIV/AIDS

BACKGROUND

Sub-Saharan Africa and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region in particular, carry the heaviest burden of HIV and AIDS in the world. At the end of 2005, the average adult HIV prevalence in the SADC region was estimated at about 11 percent as opposed to the global figure of one percent. New infections in the region were estimated at 1.5 million new cases, representing about 37 percent of new infections globally. The SADC region, with four percent of the global population, is home to about 40 percent of people living with HIV and AIDS in the world.


CURRENT TREND
  • 5 million young people in low- and middle-income countries around the world are living with HIV. 
  • Of them, about 2.7 million were living in Eastern and Southern Africa, the region most affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
  • An estimated 890,000 new infections occurred among young people aged 15-24.
  • Girls in sub-Saharan Africa are more vulnerable to HIV infection and account for approximately 70% of all infections in young people. 
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, only 30% of young men and 26% of young women have comprehensive knowledge of HIV.
  • Children orphaned by AIDS are considered vulnerable - recent UNICEF research shows that factors such as poverty levels and access to education are also important indications of vulnerability.
  • In 2009, over 14.9 million children had lost one or both parents due to AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • In 25 countries where household surveys were conducted between 2005 and 2009, a median of 11 per cent of households were receiving external support.
Millions of young people around the world are estimated to be living with HIV and AIDS.  Their numbers have declined since 2001 -- a change linked to trends toward safer behaviours and practices.  But the epidemic continues to have a grave impact upon this age group.
Among the young, HIV is most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa where more women than men are living with the virus. 
Stigma and discrimination often leaves those affected by the virus cut off from testing and prevention services. Young people need have greater access to comprehensive information, services and opportunities to develop essential skills for HIV prevention.

Prevention programmes tailored to the needs and behaviours of young people can help to reverse the spread of HIV – as can comprehensive education and action to end stigma and discrimination.
Preventing HIV transmission among young people is in line with UN Millennium Development Goals 3 and 4, which call for equal opportunities for girls and women and for reducing child mortality.
HIV and AIDS profoundly affect children at many levels. A child’s family and community can be hard struck by the effects of AIDS as parents get sick, are not able to work or are not there to protect their children. The results of this can disrupt children’s lives and put their health and security at risk. 
The continued high levels of HIV prevalence and the limited success in turning the tide of the epidemic were the motivations for a SADC think tank meeting in Maseru, Lesotho, in May 2006. The purpose of the forum was to reflect on the key drivers of the epidemic in the region and to provide suggestions for accelerating HIV prevention.   
The SEYCOHAIDS (will start in 2011) led by GLOHOMO in partnership with youth organizations, un agencies, donor partners, international NGOs, coalitions and networks working on HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health of young people across Southern and Eastern Africa.  
SEYCOHAIDS serve as a landmark for youth gathering event for the AIDS community. It is a unique place where young researchers, policy makers, activists, educators, people living with HIV link with people in other countries and meet to share and learn about best practice discoveries and effective HIV prevention, treatments and care policies and programs. Due to the vast diversity of participants, it serves as a platform at which a variety of constituencies compete for limited resources and time to highlight their issues.
There has been over the last couple of conferences, a vast number of youth attendance and not necessarily participation. At HLM in New York   a month ago, young people attending the conference demonstrated the strength in having a comprehensive and united front for young people; organizing and mobilizing youth leaders and ensuring their access to key government and civil society leaders. Through this coordination, youth voices were heard, programs and research that affect youth were discussed and evaluated, and influential adults were rallied to support youth-led programming.
The Lilongwe 2012 SEYCOHAIDS is building on the successes of the HLM youth programme to coordinate a comprehensive youth programme for youth participating in the conference and getting most youth leaders on the region to the conference.
CONFERENCE OVERVIEW
The Southern and Eastern Youth Conference on HIV/AIDS is the premier gathering for those working in the field of HIV, as well as policy makers, persons living with HIV and other individuals committed to ending the pandemic. It is a chance to assess where we are, evaluate recent scientific developments and lessons learnt, and collectively chart a course forward.

The SEYCOHAIDS 2012 conference will present new scientific knowledge and offer many opportunities for structured dialogue on the major issues facing the global response to HIV. A variety of session types – from abstract-driven presentations to symposia, bridging and plenary sessions – will meet the needs of various participants. Other related activities, including the Global Village, Youth Programme, satellite meetings, exhibitions and affiliated events, will contribute to an exceptional opportunity for professional development and networking.
  
Conference Programme
The SEYCOHAIDS 2012 Conference Programme seeks to promote scientific excellence and inquiry, encourage individual and collective action, foster multisectoral dialogue and constructive debate, and reinforce accountability amongst all stakeholders focusing on youth and HI and AIDS in the region. Sessions will focus on the latest issues in HIV science, policy and practice and will also seek to share key research findings, lessons learned, best practices, as well as identify gaps in knowledge. The conference will feature abstract-driven sessions, a daily plenary session, a variety of symposia group discussion sessions. In addition, the conference programme will include a number of programme activities, such as the discussion forums, exhibitions which are an integral aspect of the SYCOHAIDS Conference

Goal of the Lilongwe SYCOHAIDS 2012
Lilongwe 2012 has brought another opportunity for youth within Africa and the diaspora to come together to mobilize activities for youth attending the conference to interact with other youth as well as adults.
The broad objectives for the Conference are:
      Ensure effective and meaningful youth participation in international AIDS response
      Identify gaps and challenges in government policies in providing youth friendly hiv/aids services.
      Develop regional and country level strategic programmes for youth and HIV/AIDS
      Identify and build the capacity of new and emerging youth leaders for the AIDS response to ensure sustainability of youth initiatives at the national, regional and international levels
      Sustain adult-youth partnerships and dialogue
      To develop the Southern and Eastern Africa youth network on HIV/AIDS.
      To develop country specific youth networks on HIV/AIDS
      To establish funding mechanisms for regional and country youth networks.
      Monitor government and donor commitments to youth and HIV/AIDS
The specific objectives of the SEYCOHAIDS for Lilongwe are:
1.     To empower young people to maximize the learning from the conference to inform their HIV/AIDS and STI related activities
2.    To facilitate the collaboration and networking of stakeholders committed to youth HIV/AIDS issues at the conference;
3.    To promote meaningful youth participation and inclusion of youth issues in the mainstream conference agenda, in media generated from the conference, and in HIV/AIDS programs and policies in general; and
4.    To gain and achieve international and individual commitments which promote youth leadership and mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS on young people.

SEYCOHAIDS YOUTH SUB COMMITTEES
The SEYCOHAIDS 2012 SEYCOHAIDS will set up six (6) Conference Coordinating Commiteee subcommittees (CCC) that will be responsible for organising the various activities as part of the SEYCOHAIDS 2012 Youth conference. 

Below are the various  Conference Coordinating Commitee subcommittees and some proposed responsibilities of the groups:

  • Main Conference team
-          Assistance to youth participants
-          Connecting delegates beforehand
-          Developing orientation materials
-          Observing youth issues throughout the conference
-          Working with youth speakers
-          Monitoring sessions during main conference
-          Directing participants to youth centre
-          Identify key young speakers for the various sessions at the conference 

·         Youth Pre-conference/Reception subcommittee
-          Logistics (venue, accommodation, meals, DJ)
-          Determine and administer application process
-          Translation of documents into French
-          Scheduling the programme for pre-conference/reception
-          Program design/structure for reception/preconference
-          Identify speakers, facilitators, reporters and volunteers for the preconference

·         Partnerships subcommittee
-          Raising funds
-          Identifying partners for the SEYCOHAIDS
-          Liaison between the SEYCOHAIDS and the conference organizing committee
-          Find scholarships for youth participants

  • Youth Centre Exhibitions
-          Logistics & design of youth pavilion space
-          To create selection criteria and process for booths, exhibits, and sessions
-          Set up of space for exhibitions  
-          Promotion of pavilion
-          Coordinating events and sessions within pavilion
-          Partnering with Community Conference Chair for logistics for the youth centre

  • Communications team
-          Translation of all documents into French
-          Communicate youth activities for the main conference newsletter
-          Identify and manage youth reporters
-          Organise a youth press conference
-          Create various social media (Face book, twitter)
-          Create and manage conference website
-          Connecting/liaising with media centre on youth issues
-          Organize press conferences & press kits
-          Produce and manage SEYCOHAIDS Newsletter

  • Advocacy team
-          Commitments Desk
-          Develop a Youth Position paper to be presented at AIDS 2012
-          Organize a youth rally together with the Community Program Committee
-          Lead a youth mentoring program for the conference
-          SEYCOHAIDS e- discussions
-          Preparing youth to Participate
-          Identify advocacy issues/strategies
-          Organize advocacy campaigns
-          Develop advocacy issues/messages
-          Produce advocacy materials and dissemination strategy with branding team

Organizational Process
 Each subcommittee of the SEYCOHAIDS 2012 will be co-chaired by one member of the civil society core partner organizations and a member selected from the team. Subcommittee co- chairs reserve the right to replace team members who do not contribute according to the agreed upon work plan and timelines for delivery, after discussing the situation with them privately prior to taking the decision. Each committee is set up to reflect the range of expertise across the discipline and to ensure the representation of people living with HIV. The Scientific Conference Committee and Track Committees are set up to reflect the broad range of expertise across research disciplines, including basic and clinical sciences, epidemiology and prevention, operational, implementation, social, behavioural, economic and political sciences and to ensure exceptional quality of science in the conference programme.  Each committee independently develops their respective programmes, with the CCC having the final decision-making authority on the conference programme and related activities.
As the premier international forum on HIV/AIDS for the youth, and with a mandate to engage young people on a continuous basis rather than focus exclusively on the four days of the actual conference, planning for the Southern and Eastern Youth Conference on HIV/AIDS is a complex and inclusive process which begins 10 months before the event takes place. Committees made up of a wide range of stakeholders are set up to govern the conference programme, vision, format and content.

Global Hope Mobilization, PO. Box 444, Lilongwe, Malawi
Baptist Theological Seminary Campus
Publication House, Falls Estate, Area 1, Lilongwe
Website: www.glohomo.org