Helping Young People Influence the HIV Research Agenda in Zimbabwe

December 2, 2019

In AVAC Report 2019: Now What?, we called out to these advocates, members of “Generation Now”, encouraging them to sustain their bold efforts in the fight against HIV. Below is one response and more are available here.

The author, Deloune Matongo, is a sexual and reproductive health youth advocate from Zimbabwe who served as a 2018 AVAC Advocacy Fellow with GALZ (An Association of LGBTI People in Zimbabwe).

Dear AVAC,

I was encouraged to read your letter addressed to the generation of young people working on the frontlines of HIV prevention. I personally understand the importance of partnering with youth in biomedical research from idea conceptualization to commodity distribution. The field of HIV prevention needs leaders like AVAC to continue to speak out about the role that youth play in shaping our movement.

According to the World Bank, 42 percent of the world’s population is under the age of 25. Unfortunately, far too many of these young people are living with HIV, and youth between ages 15 and 25 comprise more than 30 percent of all new HIV infections globally. Deaths related to HIV and AIDS among young people tripled between 2000 and 2015 globally and in Africa it is the leading cause of death among youths. In light of these devastating statistics, it is clear that young people should be taken seriously when it comes to designing and implementing HIV prevention technologies that work for them. It’s not just logical, it’s also a matter of ethics and human rights.

My work today and during my AVAC Fellowship in 2018 is centered around capacitating youth to understand, participate in and influence biomedical research. I am proud to work with GALZ (an association of LGBTIQ people in Zimbabwe) to familiarize LGBTQ youth with the most up to date research in HIV prevention and to work in partnership with young people to influence the HIV and AIDS research agenda in Zimbabwe and around the world. The youth advocates with whom I work inspire me every day to continue to call on institutions and governments to provide the institutional and financial support necessary for robust HIV prevention, treatment and cure research.

Deloune Matongo