By April Stewart
April is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about April below or take a look at the  Student Issue Analysts.

Happiness is the name of a young girl I met in Usa River, Tanzania. She is four years old and loves orange Fanta and dancing. She and more than 30 of her friends live in an orphanage run by the Tanzania Millennium Hand Foundation. All of these children have been infected or affected by HIV, including Happiness. Happiness tested positive for HIV more than a year ago, which she contracted from her mother, who passed away from complications associated with AIDS.

Youth around the world are disproportionately infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. The growing number of youth who are infected by this virus reiterates a need for a new perspective on this global issue. Youth posses the creativity and drive to inform their peers about HIV and lower the infection rate. Organizations around the world have targeted youth in safe sex campaigns and HIV/AIDS education, yet because of the diversity of cultures, religion, and location, programs that may work to reduce infection rates in one region of the world are ineffective in others. Youth’s voices should be incorporated into these organizations to provide tailored methods of dealing with HIV/AIDS in their specific region.This could be done through youth teaching seminars, where young adults become trained to teach their peers. This could be complimented with a youth summit in which those that educate their peers around the world could exchange creative teaching strategies.

Organizations, such as the Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GYCA), work to incorporate youth in policy and programming decisions, empowering young people in a arena which has greatly affected the. With more organizations committed to giving youth a voice, children like Happiness will be represented in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

My name is April. I am a junior at Northwestern University where I study Social Policy. Getting involved in the fight against HIV has become a passion of mine since high school, when I volunteered for the Minnesota AIDS Project. Since then I have worked in Tanzania, Washington DC, Chicago and New York learning and teaching about this important issue.

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