What is the role of Y+?
We believe that our voices have more power if we join together, and so we set up the Global Network of Young People Living with HIV, also known as Y+.
With so many people affected by HIV being young, it is vital that we are involved in directing the HIV response.
By joining together we create a platform where we can be heard. Our platform is our collective ideas, thoughts, desires; made up of only young voices.
Our platform gives rise to young leaders who we support to be in decision-making spaces that matter; speaking out to represent our needs.
We ask for meaningful participation in these spaces, so that we give and take back to our community groups of young people living with HIV.
We support young people from communities, who are changing the game as peer supporters, peer counsellors and mentors.
We strive for inclusivity and recognise that not all young people are the same. Our work is for, with and by young people living with HIV in all their diversity.
How did we begin?
It all began in 2004, when we realised the need to connect young people living with HIV (YPLHIV) to each other, as well as to global decision-making spaces. This virtual network was a way to ensure young people do not feel alone. We called it Young Positives.
When we heard that the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+) was creating a new youth programme, we decided to integrate with them, and in 2010 we became the Y+ Programme. The vision was to mainstream youth issues in GNP+’s work, and see our agenda elevated.
It became apparent that we needed a way to provide feedback on the development of the Y+ Programme, and so a Y+ Advisory Group was soon born. The 28 YPLHIV volunteers were chosen for their outstanding commitment to voluntary work, as well as their connection to HIV work in their region or community.
The 28 YPLHIV volunteers were chosen for their outstanding commitment to voluntary work, as well as their connection to HIV work in their region or community
Realising that our work had become a little ad-hoc, the Y+ Advisory Group called for a strategic planning process, to pin down the aims of our network of young people living with HIV.
During this planning session in early 2014, we brought together young representatives of many people living with HIV communities, to share thoughts, ideas and challenges. We were able to create a new vision, mission, governance structure and programmatic priorities for our Y+ network.
The need for a governance structure translated into the creation of our Y+ Steering Committee in 2015, which serves the entire community of adolescents and YPLHIV. To enhance the responsibilities of our committee members, we reviewed their roles and in 2017 we created the Y+ Board, who now have specific responsibilities, work priorities, rights and duties, as well as a clear process of electing new board members.
Our next focus is to establish country focal points to better connect regional representatives to the countries in their regions.