On December 1, World Youth Alliance was asked to present a short statement at a panel discussion held at the Economic and Social Council on the present situation in the world concerning HIV/AIDS on the occasion of World AIDS Day. North American Director Casey Downing and Director of Advocacy Rebecca Austen drafted the following statement, which Casey read at the event. Our position was well received by the panelists and the audience, and it is our hope that the international community and those present at the forum will remember to put the person at the center of policies when addressing this issue.
The World Youth Alliance is a global coalition of over 20,000 young people from nearly 200 countries from the developed and developing world. Our mission is to promote the dignity of the person in policy and culture and to build solidarity among youth from every nation.
Recognition of human dignity requires treating those affected by HIV/AIDS as persons, with physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional needs, not simply carriers of a disease. Human beings who suffer from HIV/AIDS are mothers, fathers, brothers, aunts, friends, sisters, daughters, uncles, and sons. They feel the effects of the pandemic in diverse situations and in different ways. Any response to the HIV/AIDS situation, therefore, must recognize the real and underlying needs of the human person, in relationship with others, for integral development. We hope the international community will join us in affirming the dignity of the person in its response to HIV/AIDS.
The World Youth Alliance also affirms that family is the fundamental unit of society, wherein dignity, rights, and duties are first communicated. We believe that the family is the primary structure within which HIV/AIDS prevention begins, and care and support is provided. It is thus incumbent upon the international community to foster those conditions that support and nurture the family.