The past decade has held high hopes for reducing the rate of new global HIV infections among young people aged 15-24. Numbers have declined by 12% since 2001 – from 5.7 million to some 5 million in 2009, a change linked to trends toward safer behaviours and practices.
But because of the sensitivities and stigma attached to sex and drug use, the AIDS epidemic continues to challenge young people across the world. In 2010, youth accounted for 42% of new HIV infections in people aged 15 and older. We have the chance to create change. YOUth should be at the centre of the AIDS response to strengthen recent successes. Young people’s enthusiasm, creativity and adaptability mean you have a vital role to play in halting the spread of HIV and challenging AIDS stigma. There is no age restriction for leadership. In conjunction with the Summer Olympics this August, we invite YOUth to be inspired. Because the Olympic and Paralympic Games are about much more than sporting excellence. It is also about Friendship, Respect and Excellence as well as Determination, Inspiration, Courage and Equality. Important values to win against AIDS. Be the change for an AIDS-free generation. Go for gold!