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Latin American and Caribbean Youth Take Action Against HIV/AIDS

GlobalPost | 12-19-2012

At the 2008 International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, the Ministers of Health and Education from Latin America and the Caribbean promised to increase young people’s access to sexuality education and reproductive health services. The international community celebrated the historic signing of the Ministerial Declaration, "Preventing through Education," as a key instrument in combating HIV/AIDS in the region. But four years later, the ministries have failed to uphold their promise.

Armed with information, creativity, and passion, Latin American and Caribbean youth advocates are trying to change that. They are holding governments accountable for their commitments and aim move the Ministerial Declaration forward. To help achieve this goal, Demysex and the International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region (IPPF/WHR) have rallied more than 40 organizations to form a regional advocacy initiative: the Mesoamerican Coalition for Comprehensive Sexuality Education.

The lack of comprehensive sexuality education and access to youth-friendly services has proven devastating. Young people are at the center of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, comprising 40 percent of new infections, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). More than 160 million young people live in Latin America and the Caribbean, and UNICEF statistics report that 68,000 of them are living with HIV/AIDS.

“Young people have the right to make informed decisions about our bodies and the ways we express our sexuality,” said Erick Monterrosas, evaluation officer at Demysex in Mexico. “Comprehensive sexuality education means our generation will not be condemned to ignorance, discrimination, HIV infection, and unwanted pregnancies.”

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