Youth are our future. Over the past few years, under the National HIV Plan, we have been working to create an AIDS-Free Generation, but we know that it cannot be done without our nation’s youth. The National Youth HIV and AIDS Awareness day, April 10, is a day to educate the public about the impact of HIV/AIDS on young people as well as acknowledge amazing young leaders who work across the country to fight HIV and AIDS.
In the United States, one in four new HIV infections is among youth ages 13 to 24. Every month 1,000 young people are infected with HIV and over 76,400 young people are currently living with HIV across the country. Here in Central Texas, 59% of new infections are in people under the age of 35. And an even more staggering statistic is that nearly 60% of youth with HIV in the United States do not know they are infected!
Sometimes it’s easier to get the necessary conversation started when it’s with someone your own age. Young leaders and their allies can engage their community and work to save lives and fight stigma associated with HIV and AIDS. A couple of weeks ago, we spoke to Juan Bences-Benitez. Juan admitted that not too long ago, he knew little about the sexual health issues faced by young gay men. Juan has now joined the ranks of young inspirational leaders as the second youngest member of the Q Austin’s Core Group, which helps to plan events and educate young gay and bi men in the community about safe sex practices and HIV. Recently, Juan was selected to be part of the Texas Speak Out campaign by Greater than AIDS!
Not only is April 10 a day to acknowledge, address, and work for a solution, it’s also a day of inspiration and collaboration among young communities across the nation. Each year, young activists from high schools and universities across the country use this day to host discussions, table and offer resources, organize events, and educate their own communities on HIV and AIDS.
Getting involved is easy! Head over to www.amplifyyourvoice.org to find out how you can help out in your own community. Find tips and resources to host your own events as well as other ideas on how to get your school and community involved. You can even become a Youth Ambassador and be a part of the National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) Youth Ambassador Program. The National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) Youth Ambassador Program consists of young leaders and activists who come together to promote prevention, treatment, care, and youth empowerment.
Get involved in the conversation: #NYHAAD,@