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Young People and Sexuality: the Unspoken Taboo

Patricia is from Uganda. She is representing the Guttmacher Institute's Protecting the Next Generation Project at the conference.

Borrowing from the opening remarks of the co-chair of the session "Young People and Sexuality: the Unspoken Taboo," it was interesting that we didn't have a youth panelist. The topic of young people and sexuality has always been controversial and raises a lot of debate. This session has been very interesting coming from a country and society where the topics discussed raise eyebrows and in some situations a tendency to not even want to talk about it. Yet, it's becoming a real issue that needs to be addressed. The panelists talked about and shared their findings on sex tourism in Kenya, HIV among male migrants, urban youth culture and MSM in Jamaica, the risks, homophobia and related questions.

I work for an organization that boldly studies issues of sexuality and it has not been an easy thirteen years. Many people were hesitant about talking openly about sexuality for fear that it would increase sexual activity among young people and thereby accelerate the HIV infection rate. Over the years, though, continuous sensitization, advocacy and experience-sharing about the benefits of open discussion and dialog about sexuality have helped people come to appreciate the importance of talking about sexuality to young people. The times have changed. Yet some people in our society do not want to accept that people be free to express themselves without judgment.

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International Youth Unite

Patricia is from Uganda. She is representing the Guttmacher Institute's Protecting the Next Generation Project at the conference.

I have just attended yet another interesting and very informative session at the International AIDS Conference here in Toronto, where a panel of five came and shared their experiences about working with young people. This session was of interest to me, as it highlighted a number of issues similar to what I do with my organization in Uganda. The youth have come out strongly during this IAC with a strong call to their governments, richer nations and big organizations to provide more support to help them realize their dream: an AIDS-free generation.

I come from a country where the government has made tremendous efforts in trying to reduce HIV infection from about 31% in 1993 to 6.4% in 2005. But one thing still remains, the youth are still at highest risk of infection and yet little or no effort in some areas is being made to make youth friendly services available to young people.

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