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Sunday, December 5, 2010

How Global Youth Are Working to Dismantle Stigma Based on HIV-Status

By Michael A. Jones -

From August 2010 to August 2011, the world will mark what the United Nations has dubbed the International Year of Youth. The goal of this year? To make sure that youth around the world feel empowered to take part in issues of local, national, or global importance.
The Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS is taking that message to heart, with a new campaign that hopes to dismantle stigma, discrimination and bigotry on the basis of HIV-status. They're out with a competition to get youth around the world (those under 29 years of age -- which all of a sudden has me feeling particularly youthful!) to submit artwork that sends a powerful message about HIV/AIDS.
It's a creative contest to get young people to share their stories of how HIV/AIDS has affected their lives, and how we all need to come together to do three things.
The first: call for comprehensive sex education programs, so that young people know how HIV/AIDS is transmitted, how to protect against transmission, and what to do if you or a sexual partner tests positive for HIV;
The second: highlight how discrimination and stigma on the basis of HIV-status affects young people around the world. Because as the folks at the Global Youth Alliance point out, discrimination knows no borders when it comes to HIV-status, and is prevalent in both the global North and the global South.
The third: give young people a vehicle to convey what sexual and reproductive health and rights mean to them.
Work submitted for the contest must reflect one of the three themes above. So bust out your colored pencils, oil paints, Crayola crayons, charcoal, yarn, or any other art supply you can find, and show the world what young people think about HIV/AIDS.
According to the Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS, more than 6,000 people under the age of 25 are infected with HIV ... per day. Many of these folks don't have treatment available to them, or live in areas where people have to be closeted about their HIV-status or else face rampant discrimination.
"HIV/AIDS is one of the greatest challenges facing the world today – and young people remain at the center of the epidemic in terms of vulnerability, impact and potential for change," says the Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS. It's that last part, the potential for change, that this contest from the Global Youth Coalition hopes to shed some light on. After all, what good is artwork if it doesn't inspire us to change our world for the better, or capture the reality of a situation we might not readily see?
So get busy. Artwork can be submitted up until January 30, 2011, and winners will be announced on March 1. The winning entrants will get their artwork shown on the Web sites of both the Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS, as well as the United Nations International Year of Youth Web site. And there might be some nifty prizes in the works, too.
But knowing that your artwork could help inspire a globe full of people? Now that's the ultimate prize.


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