Youth

  • Last week, we hosted a live online discussion about essential community building blocks for breaking the links between poverty and poor health outcomes. The need to think creatively is perhaps strongest in local HIV/AIDS prevention initiatives. Cultural pressures, health myths and access issues can hamper engagement and progress and yet, two campaigns are making strides.

    The Many “Reasons” to Get Checked Program

    Putting a positive spin on HIV testing for young men at high risk for the disease may be a daunting task, but culturally poignant messages may go a long way toward selling the value of getting checked.

    Manuel Rodriguez manages the “Reasons” program for the nonprofit human development organization, FHI 360. Reasons is a messaging campaign that aims to get Latino men who have sex with men to undergo testing for the HIV virus. It comprises social media outreach, print, TV and online advertisements, and presence at gay pride events, and currently focuses on cities with many members of the target population, including Miami, Los Angeles and New York.

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  • Innovative technologies address youth unemployment in Iraq

    What is the Foras project?

    The word foras means “opportunity” in Arabic, an apt name for this project, which seeks to dramatically accelerate individuals’ access to employment opportunities in Iraq. USAID-Foras has launched web-based and mobile technology platforms to overcome barriers to employment, linking jobseekers with employers. Our immediate goal is to increase the number of youth and adults placed in jobs, but ultimately we want to introduce a more efficient model for how employers hire their workforce.

    Why is this project needed in Iraq?

    What USAID-Foras is doing in Iraq is essential to growth of the country’s economy and its stability. About 50 percent of the population in Iraq is 25 years or younger, and roughly half of that demographic is unemployed. Even more alarming, about 400,000 new jobseekers or eligible workers are added the economy yearly, but a vast majority of these individuals remain unemployed. This problem will only worsen without intervention.

    What technologies has Foras launched thus far and who has access to them?

    In 2013, we launched an online jobs portal, which is used by jobseekers and employers looking to hire. We adapted our portal from a similar tool developed by Microsoft in partnership with Silatech, a Qatar-based nonprofit organization. The original portal allowed jobseekers to upload a personal profile and resume or curriculum vitae (CV) and to look for available positions. We improved on this portal by adding a feature that matches jobseekers based on their skills and experiences to jobs that have been listed on the site by employers. We also made it available in English and Arabic.

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  • Business-education partnerships: Johnson & Johnson helps to change the landscape

    Too many students, more than 1.2 million, drop out of school every year in the United States alone and increasing numbers of young people are unemployed globally. Sadly, of the 13 million children growing up in poverty today, only 1 in 10 will graduate from college. There is evidence that the private sector can to help with filling the academic and skill gaps that hinder our young people from succeeding in high school. Business volunteers in communities around the world inspire students to set career goals; they guide young people in building their confidence through mentorship and project-based learning. The business community and the education community need each other now more than ever but the collaboration between schools and businesses is not always happening at a necessary scale.

    I had the pleasure of participating in a regional business-education conference in Fresno, California, recently and walked away with renewed optimism and a few important learnings. First, business-education partnerships are two-way and, when successful, engage all stakeholders including parents and students. Second, to be successful, we have learned that business-education partnerships must have clearly articulated goals and a means of measuring progress including outputs and outcomes. In the end, we need to define the value that these collaborations bring to all of the stakeholders at all stages of the partnership.

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  • Pass on the love, not the worry: Condoms and the importance of HIV testing

    Every year, the United States observes National Condom Week from February 14th (Valentine’s Day) to February 21st. What started as a fun campus event at the University of California–Berkeley in the 1970s has become an opportunity for HIV prevention educators and advocates to engage audiences across the country in conversations about condoms and other tools to protect ourselves and our partners from HIV.

    In recent years, we have reached major milestones in the fight against HIV and AIDS, and new research has generated hope for an AIDS-free generation. Antiretroviral therapy (the use of drugs to prevent HIV infection) and other prevention methods to control the spread of the virus are available and helping people with HIV live longer, healthier lives. Even more exciting is the existence of medications that HIV-negative individuals can take to help prevent infection, an approach known as pre-exposure prophylaxis. Similarly, people with HIV can also take antiretroviral drugs as part of a method known as treatment as prevention that helps lower their viral load in an effort to protect their sexual partners and helps reduce HIV transmission on a larger scale .

    But, one of the most powerful tools in the fight against the epidemic, along with condoms, remains HIV testing. The real power resides in knowing your status. This is particularly important for Latino gay and bisexual men, one of the groups most heavily impacted by HIV. Though Latinos comprise only 16 percent of the population in the United States, they account for 21 percent of all new HIV infections, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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  • Youth voices series: Perspectives on sexual and reproductive health


  • Why measuring child-level impacts can help achieve lasting economic change

    Why should economic strengthening (ES) projects monitor and measure how they affect children? Until recently, the development community has largely assumed that greater household economic welfare also leads to improved well-being for children. While evidence indicates that there is a correlation between increased household economic welfare and child well-being , studies have also shown that in the short-term, household economic activities may have no or even negative impacts on children’s well-being , such as risks of decreased school attendance or increased child labor.

    For the past six years, the Supporting Transformation by Reducing Insecurity and Vulnerability with Economic Strengthening (STRIVE) project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and managed by FHI 360, and the Child Protection in Crisis (CPC) Network’s Task Force on Livelihoods and Economic Strengthening have sought to increase our understanding of the link between households’ economic situation and children’s well-being. STRIVE and the CPC Network’s new technical brief Why Measuring Child-Level Impacts Can Help Achieve Lasting Economic Change is based in their experience and research, and shares emerging lessons and relevant recommendations for both practitioners and donors seeking to maximize the benefits of economic strengthening projects and support sustainable growth.

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  • Toward an AIDS-Free Generation

    Today’s generation of young people has never known a world without HIV. Yet, according to a new report released by UNICEF, Children and AIDS: Sixth Stocktaking Report 2013, the promise is in reach of a world where no child is born with HIV and all children remain uninfected through adolescence. In the 33 years since the first HIV diagnosis, we have both seen the devastating impact of the disease and made impressive progress in HIV prevention and care.
    The introduction of lifesaving antiretroviral (ARV) drugs has reduced mother-to-child transmission of HIV and increased life expectancy among perinatally infected infants. The rate of HIV infection among children is rapidly decreasing; since 2009, new HIV infections among children younger than 15 years of age have declined by 35 percent. Despite the enormous progress, much more must be done, especially for adolescents, before we are able to achieve an AIDS-free generation.

    According to the report, an estimated 2.1 million adolescents were living with HIV at the end of 2012. Although the overall number of global AIDS-related deaths for all ages declined by 30 percent between 2005 and 2012, AIDS-related deaths among adolescents increased by 50 percent during the same time period. Girls are disproportionately affected. In 2012, an estimated two-thirds of all new HIV infections among adolescents ages 15–19 occurred among girls. In Gabon, Sierra Leone and South Africa, girls accounted for more than 80 percent of all new infections among adolescents. Adolescent key affected populations — injecting drug users, men who have sex with men and individuals who trade or sell sex — are also extremely vulnerable. In Asia and the Pacific, more than 95 percent of new HIV infections occur among this population. This group of adolescents faces particular barriers to accessing services because of social stigma, violence and laws that criminalize risky behaviors.

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  • positive-connections-coverWhy adolescents?

    In 2012, young people ages 15 to 24 accounted for an estimated 40 percent of new nonpediatric HIV infections worldwide [UNAIDS World AIDS Day Report 2012]. Furthermore, perinatal HIV transmission is a major cause for HIV infection, and given the success of pediatric antiretroviral therapy (ART), many more infants born with HIV are growing up into adolescents and young adults living with HIV.

    While care and treatment programs for people living with HIV (PLHIV) can be found in every country, there is a gap in provision of ongoing, supportive counseling for adolescents living with HIV (ALHIV). Adolescence is often when young people begin having sex, which increases chances that adolescents living with HIV might pass the infection to partners who are HIV negative. Another concern is that girls living with HIV may become pregnant; if they do not know about or have access to services for preventing mother-to-child transmission, they can pass the infection to their babies. Given that adolescents are a large sub-group of those living with HIV, there is a need for tailored interventions and support systems that address adolescents’ unique vulnerabilities.

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  • Beyond ICFP 2013: Let’s keep the focus on youth

    This year’s International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) saw the largest youth delegation in its history. Approximately 300 young people between the ages of 18 and 25 attended, doubling the number who participated in 2011. These young family planning activists moderated panels, delivered plenary presentations and assisted in launching ground-breaking publications, such as the United Nations Population Fund’s State of World Population 2013 report on adolescent pregnancy and the International HIV/AIDS Alliance’s paper on young people living with and affected by HIV. Young people’s needs were a major focus of conference presentations, events and press coverage. Government officials publically recognized the importance of young people and encouraged their active participation as emerging leaders in the field of family planning and reproductive health.

    The attention to the unique needs of this population could not be more timely. Every day, 20,000 girls under the age of 18 in developing countries give birth. That is roughly 833 girls every hour, or 14 girls each minute. Of the 7.3 million girls who give birth each year, two million are under the age of 15 (UNFPA). Adolescent mothers face devastating social, educational, economic and health outcomes. Girls who become pregnant confront discrimination within their communities and are often forced to drop out of school or get married. Pregnancy during adolescence increases the risk of anemia, postpartum hemorrhage, prolonged obstructed labor, obstetric fistula, malnutrition and mental health disorders. Complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death for 15- to 19-year-old girls (UNFPA). Furthermore, adolescent mothers are more likely to have a lower income and have more children at shorter intervals throughout their lifetime.

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  • Bullying Prevention Month: An ounce of prevention

    October is National Bullying Prevention Month, an opportunity to take action about a problem that, unfortunately, is becoming ever more pervasive and ever more lethal. Statistics tells us a child somewhere is bullied every seven minutes, 85 percent of the time there is no intervention of any kind, and an estimated 160,000 children miss school each day because of bullying. The recent cases of teens being driven to suicide because they were bullied online by classmates are chilling reminders that much more needs to be done.

    Where does it all begin? Research we conducted found that teasing and bullying are part of the fabric of daily life for students as early as kindergarten through grade three. It is during these early years that we must start to address the problem before it takes root and grows into even more pernicious behavior.

    As the use of cell phones, iPads, and other digital devices become part of the daily lives of young children, elementary school is the time for children to gain understanding of what it means to become a good Internet citizen. Even though young children may physically know how to move a mouse, manipulate an iPad, click on a game icon, or swiftly move though photos on a smart phone, this does not mean that they are prepared to use such devices.

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