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Got Plan B? Why Access to EC Is Critical

In honor of the Back Up Your Birth Control with Emergency Contraception (EC) Campaign, Pharmacy Access Partnership and RH Reality Check teamed up to launch an essay contest open to young people 14-24 years of age. Read the winning entry!

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Shaping The Future

Where do we go from here? Young people at Women Deliver may have offered the most revolutionary road map for reducing maternal mortality rates and effecting global change.

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The Power of Youth at Women Deliver

On the second day of Women Deliver, Brian discovers the power of young people working together globally to challenge the status quo and contribute to real change.

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“Get Up, Stand Up”

Young Black women are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. Nicole Lewis urges us to answer Bob Marley's call to get up, stand up and do something about it!

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Roses Are Red, Ovaries Are … Blue?

Shelley Chinnan reports from the U.S. Social Forum this week, where she's a Choice USA Reproductive Justice Youth Ambassador. She connects reproductive health with other justice movements.

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HPV Vaccine: Not a Silver Bullet

I recently saw one of Merck's "One Less" commercials that depict ethnically diverse, physically active, and attractive women discussing the importance of being vaccinated against cervical cancer. All of these women want to be "one less" woman with cervical cancer. They urge everyone to share information about this vaccine with loved ones so that they too can be "one less" woman with cervical cancer.

The new vaccine, Gardasil®, manufactured by Merck Pharmaceuticals, has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for young women, ages 9-26. Clearly Merck is putting a lot of money behind promoting this vaccine to young women. But this captivating commercial can lull young women into a false sense of security about their reproductive health.

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A Conversation with Five AIDS Ambassadors

Brian Ackerman is an intern at Advocates for Youth and a junior at the George Washington University, majoring in International Affairs.

I always shudder when I hear that young people aged 15-24 account for over 40% of new HIV infections. At 20 years old, I am halfway through college and focused on the youthful experience of "finding myself" and creating my future. I hope HIV never has to factor into my equation, but knowing that it is a daily reality for my peers around the world is an eerie truth. Helping young people protect themselves while still balancing the rest of the costs and needs of the HIV/AIDS epidemic is increasingly difficult.

This was reiterated for me at recent briefing, "A European Perspective on the Future of Global AIDS Programs: A Conversation with Five AIDS Ambassadors," hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Center for Global Development. The event began with each ambassador speaking for a few minutes about the commitment their country has made toward fighting global AIDS. Since coming to work as an intern on international issues at Advocates for Youth, I've been exposed to much of the rhetoric about the flow of aid aimed at fighting infectious diseases in the developing world, but the commentary from these ambassadors was both refreshingly honest and difficult to hear.

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What We Don’t Know Will Hurt Us: Gynecologic Cancers

Did you know…?

  1. Nearly 80,000 U.S. women are newly diagnosed with cancers affecting reproductive organs each year.
  2. Ovarian cancer is the most deadly gynecologic cancer.
  3. Annually, more than 27,000 women in the U.S. die from some form of gynecologic cancer.
  4. Survival rates for gynecologic cancers are as high as 90% when diagnosed early but drop to 50% when diagnosed later.
  5. September is Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month.

If you didn't know this information, don't feel bad, because most people don't. According to the Women's Cancer Network, almost one-third of U.S. women feel they are not knowledgeable about gynecologic cancers, the majority (55%) feel they are only somewhat knowledgeable, and only fourteen percent say they are very knowledgeable about gynecologic cancers (PDF). But, hopefully, this will soon change.

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Girls’ Education in Burkina Faso

Fimba is from Burkina Faso. He is representing the Guttmacher Institute's Protecting the Next Generation Project at the conference.

I participated in a very interesting session entitled "Leadership in Girls Education: An Essential Component of HIV Prevention". The panelists were Josée Verner from Canada and Jeanette Kagami from Rwanda. This session spoke about something that affects my daily life at home and for which I struggle with my colleagues from my youth network to do as much as we can to address the situation of girls in Burkina Faso.

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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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