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Young 1ove at AIDS Conference 2018

Pictured above from left to right: Victoria Chuwa, HIV /AIDS Specialist at UNICEF Botswana; Dorothy Okatch, Development Manager, Young 1ove; Monica Geingos, First Lady of Namibia; Nametsego Tswetla, Chief IEC Officer at NACA Botswana; Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF; Olerato Keegope, Public Relations Officer, Young 1ove.

From 23rd to 27th July 2018, Young 1ove’s Public Relations Officer, Olerato Keegope, and Development Manager, Dorothy Okatch, represented the organisation at the 22nd International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam. The conference is the largest global health or development focused gathering in the world and brought together 15,000 researchers, activists and policy makers from more than 160 countries. AIDS 2018 provided a unique platform to highlight the importance of investment in programing for adolescents and young people, specifically increasing focus on vulnerable groups - adolescent girls and young women.

On the first day of the conference, we presented our ‘No Sugar’ findings at a Satellite Symposium organized by the Botswana Government titled "Using Local Data To Ensure Innovative Programmes For Young People In Botswana". Through the presentation, we shared the work that we have done thus far in implementing and iterating on our HIV prevention programme. The main objective was to share Botswana’s efforts in data-driven youth programming with the rest of the world. As an organisation that is evidence-based, we emphasized the need for increased use of data and research to create impactful programs.

Our presentation was titled: ‘Youth, Sex, Sugar Daddies: Evidence from the Frontlines’. We outlined the No Sugar program and how we are using locally generated data to ensure innovative and effective programming for adolescents and young people. In our call to action, we asked that stakeholders generate, use and share data to both implement programs that work and gauge impact

During the “Scaling Breakthrough Innovations to Transform the Adolescent AIDS Response,” a high level panel, our Public Relations Officer, Olerato, represented a youth perspective and focused on the need for inclusive SRHR Service Platforms. The session featured Global Executive Director of UNICEF, Henrietta Ford and Conference Co-Chair, Linda-Gail Bekker, and convened National Directors of NACA from Botswana, Namibia and Nigeria to present policy, institutional and service delivery innovations with an emphasis on hard-to-reach, underserved and marginalised adolescents and young people. There is an emphasis in Agenda 2030 to leave no-one behind, and our interventions at Young 1ove focus on prevention and advocacy among vulnerable and often forgotten groups of adolescents. Ford highlighted the importance of listening to and involving youth in all processes from the start, supporting their concerns, and implementing programs that work instead of solely collecting piles of data.

Our call to stakeholders at the International AIDS Conference was for the generation, use and sharing of data so that we are able to maintain relevance, implement what works and measure our impact.

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