Today is the official launch of the e-consultation for youth, hosted by the Washington, D.C. YouthForce, to inform the development of an advocacy campaign for the 2012 International AIDS Conference. The Washington, D.C. YouthForce, is a coalition of youth organizations that work together to leverage the presence and demands of young people (ages 15-26) at the biennial International AIDS Conference (IAC).

Since the inception of the YouthForce in 2004, over 1,500 young people have participated representing over 35 international organizations and 90 different countries through4 international advocacy campaigns and 3 youth pre-conferences. 

With  7 months to go until  the upcoming AIDS 2012 Conference, to be held from July 22 through 27 in Washington D.C, young people are organizing and gathering forces now before mobilizing and advocating in the United States. “Through this e-consultation we want to hear from all the young people involved in the HIV/AIDS response out there!” said Hugh Stephens, a young activist from Australia and a member of the Washington, D.C. YouthForce. Washington, D.C. YouthForce representatives stated the importance of youth considering that, today most young people still have inadequate access to youth-friendly sexual and reproductive  health services, HIV counseling and testing, access to condoms, and comprehensive sexuality education programmes. Furthermore, in many societies, attitudes and laws stifle youth engagement in the HIV/AIDS response, making it difficult for them to become effectively involved in the development and design of HIV programs and policies. That’s why the Washington, D.C. YouthForce is working to unite all young people and youth organisations working in the HIV/AIDS response for AIDS 2012.

“At a point where there are over 5 million young people living with HIV and almost half of the new infections in the world are among young people ages 15-24, the Washington, D.C. YouthForce wants to hear your ideas, opinions and proposals to inform the planning of the Washington, D.C. YouthForce advocacy campaign and youth-led activities that will be integrated into the Main Program of the IAC,” concluded Stephens.

Under the motto, “We are all the Washington, D.C. YouthForce,” young activists from around the world will join voices and begin to share ideas, pictures, videos, and links through social networks such as Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. The Washington, D.C. YouthForce hopes to foster greater participation of young people in the movement, to build a collective message that will make the voices of young people from all around the world to be heard, and to facilitate collective action in the HIV/AIDS response.

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