ICASA 2013: Youth Knows Best!

March 5, 2014

STOP AIDS NOW! was present at ICASA 2013 in Cape Town. At the ICASA Youth Pre-Conference young people had their say. We have summarized their important and inspiring messages in 11 quotes!

Now more than ever – Getting to zero: for youth, by youth, with youth. At the ICASA Youth Pre-Conference young people had their say. Their meaningful statements, calls to action and experiences in front of the STOP AIDS NOW! Cape Town poster show the issues youth are facing in health care and underlined the need to involve youth in the AIDS response:

  • "I believe that sexual health is a human rights issue and it is not negotiable. This has to be emphasised by policy makers." - Namakando, Zambia
  • "In the health centres condoms are there but no lubricants are provided. They don't see it as a need. As an MSM I have the right to lubricants, too" – Rodney, Malawi
  • "Young people in my community lack access to youth friendly health services, the majority do not want elderly people to know about their SRHR problems. They visit crappy doctors for unsafe abortions and self-medicate to test STIs. Youth friendly services save lives!" - Martin, Nigeria
  • "SRHR will reduce HIV and AIDS cause empowerment help us women to negotiate sex." Adeola – Nigeria
  • "Knowing your HIV status is the best decision anyone can ever make. Be confident and live life in the best way you can. You only live once." - Daphne, Uganda
  • "As a transgender, there is a lot of stigma attached to me in health services, so I want that to stop." Griffith – South Africa
  • "I work in a children community and see their need for youth friendly services: the benefits of sharing experiences, open discussions..." – Ddtangu, Democratic Republic Congo
  • "No more stigma, cause I want each and every one to be loved equally." – Nurhaun, South Africa
  • "I am a sexworker activitist. Half of the government is providing condoms, the other half is not supporting. This contradiction should stop." – Penninah, Namibia
  • "I want to combat HIV and contribute that we don't lose any more people to AIDS" – Judeline, South Africa
  • "Let's talk about sex - cause the more we talk, the more we know. The more we know, the more we be open and we decrease stigma!" – Tshepiso, South Africa

STOP AIDS NOW!'s lessons learned

The messaging at the conference was solid with key points on the failure of abstinence-only programming, the gaps between policy and practice and the need for changes in parental consent. STOP AIDS NOW! had a significant role in the youth pre-conference. We delivered a key note speech during the opening, supported 8 young key affected leaders, supported the pre-conference financially and technically and organized two skills building workshops.

With our Community Village booth at ICASA (in partnership with the International HIV/AIDS Alliance) we have offered a platform that enabled networking, gaining new insights, and sharing practical knowledge and expertise. About 50 participants actively shared valuable knowledge and expertise in eight sessions we organised, many more people paid a visit to our booth. Our MaxART programme shared its impact, research results and approaches with 4 oral and 5 poster presentations.

Main lessons learned for STOP AIDS NOW! are:

  • HIV and AIDS still is and remains highly stigmatized and criminalized. This is the biggest barrier for an effective response. Only if we can solve stigma and discrimination, we can reach the end of AIDS.
  • To end AIDS we need to invest in community mobilization and advocacy and rights for all.
  • The importance of supporting local partners to conferences like ICASA to let them show and share their work, network with other people from their region, and learn from other presenters on the topics they are working on in their country.


This article has been published in the STOP AIDS NOW! E-news “Income for Prevention” (March 2014)