National AIDS strategic plans failing to include young key populations
A new report about the inclusion of young key populations in strategic plans in the Asia-Pacific Regional has been released at the 2014 International AIDS conference.
The report, ‘In or Out? Asia-Pacific Regional Review of the Inclusion of Young Key Populations in National AIDS Strategic Plans’ reveals that many countries in this region are failing to include at-risk youth in their strategic plans. National Strategic Plans determine a country’s response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic and guide Global Fund investments, making it vital to include those most at risk (sex workers, men having sex with men, transgender, drug users) in the development of effective strategies and to allocate resources where they are needed.
The Asia-Pacific region has the highest number of young people in the world (1.12 billion) with an estimated 15 percent of this group, living with HIV. Moreover, 95 percent of all new HIV infections are thought to occur among young people belonging to these key populations, highlighting the importance of focussing on young persons within these vulnerable groups.
Analysis of 19 National Strategic Plans from countries across Asia and the Pacific showed how there is an inadequate inclusion of at risk youth factors that lead to increased risk of HIV transmission, such as unprotected commercial sex and the sharing of contaminated injection equipment develop at a young age, making the inclusion of this group within National Strategic Plans vital. Indeed, their engagement in the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of HIV programmes is crucial to their success.
The inclusion of young key populations in national strategic plans also requires countries to implement the appropriate political and financial processes to tackle on-the-ground realities. While it is important to address key populations in tackling the HIV epidemic, it is important to recognise younger members of these groups who are at a heightened risk of HIV transmission.