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What Young Women Need This World AIDS Day? Contraception, HIV Prevention and More…

What Young Women Need This World AIDS Day? Contraception, HIV Prevention and More…

The last few days, I’ve been running around the International Conference on Family Planning in Dakar, Senegal. It’s been incredible to see the more than 2,500 health providers, donors, journalists, researchers, advocates, and government officials who are all talking about family planning—even the President of Senegal has stopped by to show his support.

But one of the big topics of the conference has been the integration of family planning and HIV services. It’s not just because today is World AIDS Day. Family planning and HIV services share a common, and very important patient: young, sexually active men and women of reproductive age. And the most vulnerable and at-risk? Young women.

The recent debate about hormonal contraception possibly increasing risk of HIV does not negate the fact that young women need protection from unintended pregnancy and HIV, as well as the ability to decide when, if, and how many children to have. As Tewodros Melesse, Director General of IPPF said this morning in a press conference in Dakar, “integrated services are critical.”

Pathfinder International President Daniel E. Pellegrom said, “We must follow the patient. Women face risks with young, frequent and unintended pregnancies. They are also most at risk for HIV.”

Throughout the conference, this has been a main focus of media, break out sessions, as well as Twitter. It’s clear that youth—and particularly young women—need comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services. To do this, we need a greater investment in international family planning and a greater investment in supporting youth.

Yesterday I spoke to a young woman from Zimbabwe who advocates for youth health care. She said that oftentimes, youth don’t even know how they can get pregnant. She said she would love young people to start a campaign to say to providers, “I might be pregnant. Ask me!”

I hope you’ll take action this World AIDS Day by sharing this story, or making a comment below. Join the 2,500 of us in Dakar as we raise awareness about the importance of family planning, HIV services, and more for youth!

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17 comments

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4:19AM PST on Dec 5, 2011

Thanks for the article.

1:46PM PST on Dec 3, 2011

Education is needed to solve this problem

11:18AM PST on Dec 3, 2011

Education is the key to success...

1:32AM PST on Dec 3, 2011

All are needed.

9:38PM PST on Dec 2, 2011

Great to see so many working together to help those in need with better health services and educating people how they can make better choices about their own health.

And this is especially important when it comes to fighting STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases). And the best defense against STDs is to teach the importance of abstinence to those who are not in a committed relationship, and being faithful to their spouse for those who are.

9:37PM PST on Dec 2, 2011

Men need to use condoms.

3:15PM PST on Dec 2, 2011

Education is key to prevention! Thank you for doing all you do for AIDS prevention.

10:26AM PST on Dec 2, 2011

This is not only important for individual women, but for national and global communities increasingly threatened by the implications of overpopulation. Great work!

9:48AM PST on Dec 2, 2011

Keep up the good work!

6:27AM PST on Dec 2, 2011

Not just young women, but all young people need clear and direct information and education on prevention of STDs and pregnancy. Mere abstinence education is not enough and relying on families to give that information is relying on a false hope.

ALL young people in ALL in junior and senior high schools need to learn about and have access to information on sexual responsibility, disease/pregnancy prevention and seeking responsible relationships.

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