22.11.2011 -

High-level Commitment on HIV Prevention and Sexual Health for Young People in East and Southern Africa

Launching the 2011 World AIDS Report, Germany's Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Dirk Niebel, called for ‘intelligent investment’ for HIV prevention and a comprehensive AIDS response in sub-Saharan Africa.

The same day, the Development Ministry announced its support for collaboration between UNESCO and UNAIDS to achieve high-level commitment for young people and sexual health in East and Southern Africa. An international commitment process with ministries of health and of education will be facilitated in collaboration with UNESCO and UNAIDS, working closely with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC).

In particular, it will focus on access to good quality comprehensive sexuality education as an important platform for improving HIV prevention, treatment, care and support in the most affected countries. The process will seek to engage and mobilize support from political decision-makers in the health and education sectors of 20 countries across East and Southern Africa, including 15 UNAIDS priority action countries.

Speaking in the closing ceremony of the Health.Right.Now! HIV Prevention without Barriers conference, 21 November 2011 in Berlin, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Gudrun Kopp stated the importance of ensuring young people’s health as a key priority for the future. Ms. Kopp reaffirmed the Ministry’s commitment to supporting East and Southern African countries’ AIDS response with financial and technical support.

Today, despite progress in the region’s AIDS response and reduced HIV prevalence, almost 80 per cent of all infections among young people occur in East and Southern Africa, with young women disproportionately affected. Schools play a critical role in preventing new infections among young people by increasing knowledge levels and enabling young people to make healthy decisions.

The regional high-level commitment will emphasise the importance of life skills and sexuality education and will also recognize the importance of gender, rights and cultural norms, parents and families, teacher training and support, and leadership from various community stakeholders. The commitment will be a collaborative process between government and civil society representatives, including youth-led and youth-serving organizations.

  • Listen to Minister Niebel’s comments on the need for intelligent investment to end AIDS, including stronger engagement in education and HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa here (in German).

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