WYA Press Release for AIDS Conference


“We deserve better than harm reduction.” World Youth Alliance delegates at the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna, Austria, July 18 – 23, 2010

(Vienna: July 23, 2010):

A small delegation from the World Youth Alliance participated in the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna, Austria from July 18 – 23, 2010, bringing the voice of young people and the principles of human dignity and solidarity to the forefront of the debate on HIV prevention, care and treatment. The delegation was led by Marie-Caroline Leroux, Director of WYA Europe. WYA members Hannah Ondiek (Kenya), Kellen Dougherty (USA) and Luz Cardona (Costa Rica) made up the rest of the diverse delegation to the conference.

The WYA message was clear: the response to the AIDS pandemic must be “person-centered” and not “risk-reduction centered.” Although the WYA approach was the minority one at the conference, the voices of our delegates were heard through distribution of our conference journal (“Esperanza”) and through a small t-shirt campaign that bore the slogan, “Yes, We Can Change” and “We deserve better than harm reduction.” Delegation members asked pertinent and pressing questions at the various sessions, forcing the experts and panelists to acknowledge and think about their current approach to the issues of sex work, drug use and marginalized groups in the context of HIV prevention.

“As young people, we know that the human person possess freedom. This applies to prevention of HIV/AIDS, as we also know that some sexual behaviors are more risky than others. We want to encourage policy-makers to consider the fact that “Yes, we can change”, and that harm reduction is not sufficient to address the wrenching epidemic we face now. Sound and successful AIDS policies include a “behavioral component,” highlights Marie-Caroline Leroux.

If you would like more information on WYA’s participation in the XVIII AIDS Conference, please contact Marie-Caroline Leroux by email: mariecaroline@wya.net.