The International AIDS Conference takes place every two years, and this year was the first time it took place in Latin America. Between August 3rd and August 8th, delegates from all over the world arrived at Mexico City to discuss issues surrounding this health topic. The Global Village was the social and cultural hub of the event. One of the most active zones at the Global Village in the AIDS conference was certainly the Youth Action Zone, where youth from many different parts of the world got together to talk about their experiences, their hopes, their dreams and how change should come about taking their participation seriously. Their YouTube Channel has a series of videos from the AIDS conference, interviews and commentary about their role in taking control of the AIDS epidemic.
Their introductory video explains their role and participation in the conference, where youth from all over the world explain their reasons why they believe their participation is of the utmost importance in addressing the issues around HIV and AIDS.
From the different symposiums, speakers and panels during the conference there was a common message: AIDS is affecting youth at alarming rates. At the Diverse Families area of the Global Village, a panel was dedicated exclusively about the impact that family acceptance has in reducing risky behaviors that could lead to HIV. Policies around youth are usually generated from above, by adults and their ideas about what programs and campaigns could help reduce risky behavior, but stigma and fear are still strong barriers that block teens from receiving adequate information. At the Youth Force press conference, these youngsters spoke out about their specific needs:
They establish that youth is not a homogeneous group: that among the youth are women, teens who are involved in sex work, there are injection drug users, others living on the streets or are part of the Men having sex with men group. They are being invisibilised as well as those youth living with HIV-AIDS.
Part of their activities outside the Youth Action Zone was a piñata bashing, where piñatas filled with condoms, candy and lube were labeled with words and negative terms regarding youth they want to see eliminated: