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, Ulanda Mtamba, is a behavioral change and communication specialist from Malawi who served as a 2018 AVAC Advocacy Fellow with the organization Advancing Girls Education in Africa.
Thank you for highlighting the importance of engaging youth in HIV prevention advocacy in your letter to Generation Now. In my own experience working with young people, I have developed a deep appreciation for the vital role youth play in pushing for social change. Young people understand their own challenges intimately and their participation in HIV prevention advocacy and research is essential in developing and implementing technologies that work for younger generations.
Young women, in particular, possess crucial insights concerning the relationship between HIV/AIDS and sexual and reproductive health. They understand the importance of integrating HIV/AIDS and sexual and reproductive health services because their lives are affected by siloed interventions. My belief in the importance of young women’s participation in the field has propelled me to establish community education programs that increase their knowledge of oral PrEP and the dapivirine ring in my home country of Malawi. I believe that by familiarizing young women with HIV prevention research, we can better empower this generation to engage in national dialogues and inform the HIV research agenda in Malawi and around the world. I look forward to continuing my work with young women to advance our participation in biomedical research and advocacy. I also call on leaders in the field to prioritize the integration of sexual and reproductive health services in HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment as an essential public health intervention.