Vienna YouthForce: Vienna YouthForce was launched after AIDS 2008 and is a global platform for international, regional and local youth organizations that focus on HIV and AIDS, as well as on youth sexual and reproductive health and rights. We work together and organize youth activities and advocacy campaigns prior to and during the conference, such as the youth pre-conference, youth advocacy campaigns and the youth commitment desk. Ten youth organizations are on the Vienna Youth Force now, including Advocates for Youth, Community Forum Austria, Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GYCA), International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA), the World AIDS Campaign, Youth Coalition on Sexual and Reproductive Rights, YouAct, Y-Peer, CHOICE for youth and sexuality and Youth R.I.S.E.
The Youth Programme Working Group and the Vienna YouthForce are working closely together to act as a common body for young people at the International AIDS Conference. If you have particular questions, you may contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Vienna Youth Force sub-committees started their work in January 2010. The five sub-committees focus on and support the following areas within the AIDS 2010 Youth Programme:
- Youth Pre-Conference
- Youth Pavilion
- Main Conference: Abstracts, Skills Building Workshops, Non-Abstract-Driven Sessions and Special Sessions
- Media and Communication
Each of the sub-committees consists of two Co-chairs plus 10 to 12 members from different regions.
The mission of the YouthForce began at AIDS 2000 in Durban, where only 50 young people participated in a conference of thousands. In response, Advocates for Youth and Family Health International joined forces with over 40 other organizations to form the first YouthForce, focused on increasing youth participation in AIDS 2002 in Barcelona. The YouthForce promoted renewed discourse during a time when issues related to young people and HIV/AIDS were missing from the conversation. In Barcelona, the YouthForce coordinated young people from all regions of the world to run a visibility campaign entitled “Where are the outh?” As proof of its success, in the closing ceremony, former United States President Bill Clinton highlighted the campaign as the type of advocacy effort that can bring real change to the way global decision-making about HIV/AIDS priorities are made.
In preparation for AIDS 2004 in Bangkok, the YouthForce worked with local Thai youth and conference organizers to ensure that youth programming was integrated into the main conference. As a result, organizers provided space and opportunities for the YouthForce, and more focused conference policies and programming to increase the participation of young people. In addition, the YouthForce organized the first Youth Pre-Conference to support young people’s active participation in the main conference. The Pre-Conference provided capacitybuilding, skills-based training, and a space for peer networking and learning. After the Bangkok Conference, youth delegates came together to form an international network called the Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS, which continues to serve as a bridge between conferences to further key issues.
At AIDS 2006 in Toronto, the YouthForce pushed the envelope once again. In addition to continuing and expanding effective programming from previous International AIDS Conferences -- including doubling the number of youth conference delegates -- youth organizers worked with the conference secretariat and Local Host directly. In addition to Family Health International and Advocates for Youth, TakingITGlobal and the Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS joined the organizing team and facilitated the involvement of hundreds of organizations and thousands of youth. Through this partnership, youth participation was further institutionalized within the conference structure. The YouthForce also developed a strategic and targeted advocacy and visibility campaign, moving beyond the issue of youth participation, and creating substantive messages on the programming and policy changes needed to win the fight against AIDS.
As evidence of the success and impact of young people at the Toronto conference, Dr. Peter Piot, Executive Director of UNAIDS remarked, "I know more about the YouthForce than anything else at the Conference."