YAHAnet co-hosts a panel discussion on Youth, Sexuality, and HIV & AIDS!

On November 9, 2009, members of the Montréal community gathered to discuss the theme of the upcoming XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna, Austria: "Rights Here, Rights Now"

Chaired by Katie MacEntee, a McGill PhD student in Education, the panel discussion featured representatives from Head & Heads, AIDS Community Care Montréal, and YAHAnet. Spoken-word artist Ari Resnikoff opened the discussion with an incredibly powerful poetry performance. Lisa Trimble, a McGill PhD candidate in Education, moderated the closing question and answer session that furthered an interesting discourse on what is covered in HIV & AIDS education today and how to measure the impact of youth leadership in the fight against HIV & AIDS.

About 30 students attended the discussion in efforts to start a dialogue on pertinent youth health issues and youth leadership which will hopefully be continued at the Vienna Conference in July 2010.

The discussion focused on alternative approaches to educating about HIV & AIDS and the challenges youth peer educators face when confronting this topic. All around the board, participants agreed that efforts were not in vain. For example, youth throughout Montréal are systematically responding well to the promoted alternative approaches to HIV & AIDS education. It was noted that parents and teachers are the ones who are more likely to find problems with the alternative methods of education than the youth themselves.

The discussion provided a way for participants to connect with one another and question which peer education tactics work and which do not. Participants also learned how YAHAnet provides the perfect space for the brainstorming and sharing of new tactics on both a local and global level.

Questions arose as to what the next steps were in the fight for HIV & AIDS education in both extra-curricular programs and in-school sexual education programs. The majority of participants agreed that alternative approaches to sex education were not only necessary but far more useful than common sexual education courses. However, a major issue for both AIDS Community Care Montréal and Head & Hands representatives was the lack of financial support for their programs and projects.

By the end of the discussion, all who participated were ready to address challenges within their communities and had become aware of how important it is for youth around the world to have the tools to become (and continue to be) vocal leaders in all HIV & AIDS awareness efforts!

– written by Alyssa Bauer, YAHAnet Communications Intern

~ Find out more about the panel presenters
~ Check out some photos from the event

We would love to hear your thoughts on the theme of the upcoming AIDS Conference ("Rights Here, Right Now"). Please feel free to discuss in the Forum!