Written by Olivia McLean
Mark your calendars–the fight against HIV and AIDS is continuing to push through.
Advocates for Youth, an organization that aims to help and inform young people about reproductive and sexual health, called on President Obama, Congress, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the HIV and AIDS community to officially recognize April 10 as National Youth HIV and AIDS Awareness Day.
Observance of the day will designate a specific date for activists, organizations and schools to educate the community about HIV and AIDS. This includes informing people about the importance of regular HIV testing and erasing stereotypes that are associated with HIV and AIDS.
The organization, which was established in 1980, received its signatures via a petition placed on its website, www.AdvocatesForYouth.org.
One of the main reasons the organization focuses on youth advocacy is so that one day the world will be AIDS-free.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2009, people ages 13 to 29 accounted for 39 percent of all new HIV infections in the US.
The CDC also notes that research has shown that a large proportion of young people are not concerned about becoming infected with HIV. The recognition of National Youth HIV and AIDS Awareness Day will push to make that statement a thing of the past.
VSU HEROS, an on-campus organization known for its signature red ribbon logo, describes its mission as being dedicated to “improving the quality of life of children infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS through enriching programs, unforgettable experiences and connections to the community.”
In March, VSU HEROS hosted “Rock Your Red,” a forum addressing prevention of HIV and AIDS, and on April 20 the organization will host the HERO Olympics for children in the Valdosta community.
VSU involvement doesn’t stop there.
The VSU Gay Straight Alliance also addresses HIV and AIDS awareness by discussing different methods to tackle HIV and AIDS in the LGBT community. Throughout the semester, the organization will host events and fundraisers to support HIV and AIDS awareness groups.
Advocates for Youth is known for its realistic approach when teaching adolescents about sexual health and will continue to make sure that the needs and voices of young people are heard throughout the United States.