Young people in our region have new opportunities, but also face new risks, including one of the steepest increases in the spread of HIV and AIDS in the world.
More than 80 per cent of those in the region with HIV are under the age of 30. Young people also face poverty, unemployment, trafficking in drugs and human beings, and violence – all of which feed the HIV epidemic. But young people are the solution, not the problem. They are the region’s most valuable asset and they have the right to be involved in the debates and decisions that affect them.
• Increases of up to 700 percent in HIV infection rates have been found in some parts of the Russian Federation since 2006, epidemiologists reported. Significant rise in HIV incidence in Central Asia and the Caucasus remain under reported.
• The region is seeing growing numbers of young people exploited in the commercial sex industry. Some 80 percent of sex workers in Central and Eastern Europe are young people. Female drugs users often sell sex to support their drug use and that of their male partners, according to Eurasian Harm Reduction Network.
• Punitive policies drive those at risk of HIV away from the help they need.
• Widespread stigma and discrimination further isolate those in need of assistance.
• Youth participation in decision-making is a new concept but slowly gaining ground.
But young people are the solution, not the problem. They are the region`s most valuable asset and they have the right to be involved in the debates and decisions that affect them. Youth participation in decision making is critical to the progress in the region.
All data are from the State of the World`s Children 2011, unless stated otherwise.
Updated 1 March, 2010.