National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day is a day to educate the public about the impact of HIV and AIDS on young people as well as highlight the amazing work young people are doing across the country to fight the HIV & AIDS epidemic.
When is National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day?
National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day is an annual observance that takes place on April 10. The first ever National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day took place on April 10, 2013.
Why is National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day important?
Today’s young people are the first generation who have never known a world without HIV and AIDS. In the United States, one in four new HIV infections is among youth ages 13 to 24. Every month 1,000 young people are infected with HIV and over 76,400 young people are currently living with HIV across the country. While there has been much talk about an AIDS-Free Generation, we know that is not possible without our nation’s youth. Young people and their allies are determined to end this epidemic once and for all and this day is a way to acknowledge the great work young people are already engaging in to do so.
Where will National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day be celebrated?
National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day will be celebrated all across the country. There will be events hosted by various organizations and individuals in high schools, colleges, churches, community centers and more! There also will be opportunities for online participation.
How do I commemorate National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day?
National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day is an opportunity to learn about HIV & AIDS and how young people are affected. It is also an opportunity to show support for the cause while educating others. You could send tweets, host an event, get tested, table on your campus, and more! Check out the resources toolkit for more ideas on ways to engage.
How do I prepare?
If you plan on hosting an event, make sure to plan adequately so that there is enough time to get the word out and organize whatever resources that you might need. If you are hosting an event, make sure you have a venue and an agenda. Check out the resources toolkit for more information.
How do I find events near me for National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day?
Check out our events map to find an event registered near you. If you do not see an event, think about hosting your own!
How do I get other young people to participate?
Spread the word via social media, word of mouth, or hand out flyers in your area. Share some facts with your peers and stress the importance of National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day. Follow us on twitter, and like us on facebook to get updates on more resources as the day approaches!
HIV is a virus which causes AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). AIDS weakens the body's immune system (your defense against infections) so that it loses the ability to fight off infection and illnesses.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus transmitted through direct contact with infected blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and breast milk. You can get the virus by:
Exchanging blood, semen, and vaginal secretions through vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse with someone who has HIV. During vaginal intercourse, the risk of becoming infected is higher for women than men, because HIV is more easily transmitted from man to woman.
Sharing needles or syringes used for injecting drugs, medicine, tattooing, or ear piercing with someone who has HIV.
Being born to a mother who has the virus. (HIV can be passed to a fetus through the umbilical cord while it is still inside the mother, through contact with vaginal fluids and blood during birth or through breast milk after birth.)
You can't get HIV from:
Touching, talking to, or sharing a home with a person who is HIV infected or has AIDS.
Sharing utensils, such as forks and spoons, used by someone with HIV infection or AIDS.
Using swimming pools, hot tubs, drinking fountains, toilet seats, doorknobs, gym equipment, or telephones used by people with HIV infection or AIDS.
Having someone with HIV or AIDS hug, kiss, spit, sneeze, cough, breathe, sweat, or cry on you.
Being bitten by mosquitoes.
Donating blood in countries like the U.S. where a new needle is used for every donor. You do not come into contact with anyone else's blood. In the U.S., donated blood is always screened for HIV so the risk of infection from a blood transfusion is very, very low.
Scientists believe HIV came from a particular kind of chimpanzee in Western Africa. Humans probably came in contact with HIV when they hunted and ate infected animals. Recent studies indicate that HIV may have jumped from monkeys to humans as far back as the late 1800s.
No. Being diagnosed with HIV does NOT mean a person will also be diagnosed with AIDS. Healthcare professionals diagnose AIDS only when people with HIV disease begin to get severe opportunistic infections (OI), or their T-cell counts fall below a certain level.
Once someone is diagnosed with HIV, they can take medication which suppresses the virus for years, even decades. Though HIV is a chronic condition they live with and need medical care for, they can lead a full and normal life.
Ask President Obama to prioritize youth in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy
Young people are the only segment of the population for whom HIV rates continue to increase in this country. We ask President Obama to prioritize youth in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy by calling for improved sex education for all youth and targeted evidence-based HIV prevention, treatment and care interventions for youth from communities with disproportionate risk for HIV.
What is the National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) Youth Ambassador Program? The National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) Youth Ambassador Program consists of young leaders and activists who come together to promote prevention, treatment, care, and youth empowerment.
Meet the 2016 Youth Ambassadors!
I became involved in the HIV and AIDS industry as a result of my own diagnoses. In March of 2014, I was diagnosed with AIDS at a CD4 count of twenty. Two weeks of hospitalization was all the time I needed to know that this was what I was made for. Rather than letting my serostatus set my life ablaze, I allowed it to set a fire under me. I realized that while I am not on top of the socioeconomic food chain, I was privileged and fortunate in many ways. I wanted to advocate and fight for those that may not have the opportunities or, mainly, the support that I did. I fight not only for myself but people like me. Young, Brown, and Queer people with HIV and those placed at risk of acquisition. I believe that we, the youth, should have the opportunities and resources available to protect our bodies in every way. Texas is an abstinence only state. For this reason, among many, we are not “at risk” youth. We are youth placed at risk. I am from the southernmost point of Texas, neighboring Mexico. An impoverished area where sex is taboo and our spots on the tax bracket determine our health. This combination is dangerous for my peers. It is paramount that I reach out to them and empower them to fight with me to improve our and the next generations outcomes of health.
As an ambassador I would love to be able to share information about prevention, treatment, and awareness on my blog www.DontDieAfraid.com. I realized that my peers see HIV and AIDS as an issue that affects “others” instead of “us” so I want to be the catalyst that helps them see that we are all impacted. It is important for young people to advocate for sexual health and rights because we are the voices of the sexual health equity revolution. I believe one issue that hinders young people from accessing sexual health education and services is fear. Last year as a Graduate Assistant I saw that many students felt uncomfortable entering the office to get free condoms. They would walk in and either go straight to the dispenser without looking in my direction. This motivated me to empower students to realize, when it comes to your sexual health, you shouldn’t allow fear to take over, it is something you need to protect. I want young people of my generation to resist succumbing to stigma, and be proud to take control of their sexual health. Through this new mindset, I hope that they can set the standard for future generations to continue this legacy of sexual health awareness and empowerment.
When I was 16 years old, I was certified to teach my peers, which consisted of both high school and college-aged students, about the medical facts concerning HIV and AIDS. Since getting my certification, I have spent the last two years teaching and disproving myths about HIV and AIDS. When I first started, I did not realize there was such a high need for comprehensive education for HIV and AIDS as well as sexual health in my community. This fact has only furthered my determination to continue teaching for as long as I can. My motivation to continue teaching also stems from more personal reasons. After a friend of mine was diagnosed as being HIV positive, we both realized that we did not know what this virus entailed. It inspired the both of us to take the steps needed not only to educate ourselves but to also be able to educate others. Now, my goal is to help educate young people about sexual health, safer sex practices, bring awareness about HIV and AIDS, and share with them the rights that they have to their bodies.
Hey there! I work for Compass, the Gay and Lesbian Community Center in Lake Worth, Florida. I have been involved in HIV prevention work for five years. This all started when I was volunteering with AIDS Athens, my passion just grew from there. I have always strived to help others around me and I believe I have found my niche in the field of HIV prevention and youth sexual health. I have an Associates degree in Science from the University of North Georgia and will be attending Florida Atlantic University in January 2016 for my Bachelor of Social Work degree. I find that through my work, I have been able to connect with youth across Southern Florida to promote a feeling of acceptance, safer sex choices, and build a community for for LGBTQ people to thrive in!
I am a Peer Health Mentor for a social media campaign called Safer is S.E.X.Y.(Sphisticated, Empowered, Xtraordinary, You) at Action for Boston Community Development Health Services. The experience has allowed me to not only have the incredible opportunity to connect with other young women in Boston but has blessed me with a sense of empowerment. It has challenged me to not only advocate for myself in terms of taking control of my health and wellbeing but for other young people as well. I care immensely about the health and wellness of my community in all aspects (mind, body & spirit) and I want them to know that they deserve too as well!Together we can put an end to negative taboos regarding sexual health and advocate for a society where judgement, shame or injustice is never associated with the cause.
I am currently serving my third year as president of A.N.G.E.L.S. (AIDS Now Grasps Every Living Soul), an HIV & AIDS awareness and prevention group on our campus. When I came to Georgia College I met the woman who started A.N.G.E.L.S. after her son passed away. I emailed the club's adviser and after one meeting I was hooked. What motivated me to begin working in the movement for an AIDS free generation was the startling realization that AIDS is the only disease of its magnitude, both in its prevalence around the globe and in its disastrous impact on the lives of the individuals, which is 100% preventable. We may not have a cure for AIDS (yet), but we already know that education is the number one way we can protect the sexual health and well-being of everyone. That's why I do the work I do. I hope that our generation can find the courage to shift the mindset around sexual health. I hope we can foster a culture that isn't afraid to talk about these issues, and I believe that our generation is the one with the power to make a change.
I became involved with HIV & AIDS and sexual health and rights movement through a man named Louis Ortiz. I participated in The Gran Varones as the youngest person sharing their coming out story and living with HIV. I want to be free, see the humbleness in people, to feel wanted, to be educated, and to be comfortable in asking questions. Young people set the trends; therefore we need to be involved in every aspect of sexual health and rights.
Towards the end of my last semester of high school I started getting involved in the HIV & AIDS awareness and prevention field by volunteering with The Q Austin, an Mpowerment Project in correlation with AIDS Services of Austin. That eventually led me to a statewide ambassadorship with Speak Out and Greater Than AIDS. I have been involved with the City of Austin's Healthy Adolescent Program which focuses on reducing HIV infection rates amongst young men who have sex with men. This movement is with younger generations to make up for the lack of sexual health education and empowerment that our society and educational systems have failed to give us. In a state like Texas where the prevailing mindset is a conservative one there is a void in the knowledge that young adults have in the subject of HIV and AIDS, furthermore propelling me to want to advocate for greater sexual health and rights. I've realized that in progressive cities like Austin I have been privileged to have organizations working tirelessly to reduce HIV infections which is not the case for much of America. I feel I have a duty to make that disparity known on a larger scale for us to make HIV & AIDS just another chapter in the history books. Future generations will finish writing the chapter of what HIV and AIDS looks like in our communities and I am here to work alongside them.
I am a sixteen-year-old boy who managed to be lucky enough to be a Youth Ambassador for NYHAAD this year. I’m your basic teenager looking to help out in any way I can. I’ve always been pretty involved with spreading awareness about LGBT issues. I’m trans, so it’s important for me to make an effort for all trans kids in the future. I want them to have a better experience than I did. I’m the president of my school’s Gay-Straight-Alliance and along with my friends’ and teacher’s help try to educate as many kids as possible about LGBT issues and how we really aren’t different from the rest of the world. I was never taught about HIV and AIDS, and if I was they didn’t do a good enough job for it to stick which is surprising being the student I am. I had to learn about sexual health all on my own with my own resources. I think it’s everybody’s right to know how to protect themselves and how to educate and treat others. If we as young adults don’t tell people what we want and need, then we will never get it.We have to advocate for ourselves. I do and I’m trans, grew up with severe social anxiety, and have multiple disabilities. It didn’t stop me. I overcome a lot of obstacles every day to reach other people’s “normal” so I think I deserve to know the truth about these things that could change my life. I will keep trying until I do.
I have not always been informed about HIV & AIDS prevention, but as I engaged in many queer spaces the need became clear in youth populations. I started out my activist journey by starting a Gay‐Straight Alliance club my senior year of high school, but we were stifled by the conservative majority of my suburban Texas home. I took it upon myself to reach out to more queer youth, so I put together a coalition of GSA clubs and created the Queer Youth Coalition (QYC), a student run non‐profit dedicated to serving and empowering queer youth in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I worked with the QYC until I moved to Washington D.C. to attend the George Washington University. Already as a freshman I have started a new student organization called “Students for Queer Engagement” which is dedicated to empowering the DC queer community through service, advocacy, and community building. In my work as an advocate for queer rights, I have worked alongside advocates for HIV & AIDS prevention and I am excited to finally prioritize HIV&AIDS prevention and youth in my advocacy work. I am motivated to do advocacy because I know that I can improve the lives of others as well as myself by doing so. I would like to see my generation and future ones unafraid to share their ideas and demand that those ideas are respected just as much as ones that come from ‘adults’. Sexual health is something most adults do not talk about much with youth. In some parts of the U.S. sex is stigmatized and politicized by educators to the point where youth are actually being given mis‐information about how to be sexually healthy. As a youth ambassador, I hope to be a part of the change that youth so desperately need in HIV & AIDS and sexual health awareness.
I realized this field was a perfect fit in my public health pursuit due to my own identity as a queer man of color and my two uncles passing away from AIDS complications. I first got involved with advocacy and sexual health rights for youth when I attended the Urban Retreat held by Advocates for Youth in September. After having many discussions with my colleagues and finding a greater sense of identity I feel the need to actively support this issue and bring much awareness.
I recently took on the role of being a Peer Health Educator, teaching high school students about sexual health every week. I have a great understanding of how important it is for youth to be able to make informed health decisions and have a support system that shares information. As a public health educator I want young people to be aware of the decisions they are making and how it affects them later down the line. If I can share my story and bring some light to someone then my job has a purpose. I ultimately didn’t have peer health educators ten years ago, and as a result of that I have put myself into stressful situations. It is very imperative that youth advocate for their health so they can receive the quality resources and education they deserve. By youth advocating for their health, policy makers will be prone to listen to them and act accordingly. I’m motivated to inspire others to be pro-active with their health decisions and recall on consequences and benefits for their actions.
My initial interest for activism in HIV and AIDS began doing volunteer work in Colorado. I was given the opportunity to work closely in a syringe-exchange program and case management, and develop outreach strategies and presentations on prevention. My interest has continued on to my AmeriCorp position now, where I work in a Teen Clinic in rural Northern California. Over the next year, I hope to become certified in rapid-testing and counseling again, and continue to support those in my community. I also assist in sexual health education classes in middle schools and high schools. I feel that it’s important for young people to understand and advocate for sexual health rights because they affect us all. Reproductive and sexual health is engrained in many facets of our culture, such as relationships and gender equality. Unfortunately, quality sexual health education is still a privilege in certain areas. Young people deserve the right to access quality education in reproductive and sexual health. It is important for us to stand together and give unbiased support to those living with HIV, while giving factual education to the public. I am a youth, and our voices need to be heard.
I was motivated to become involved in this work through my current participation in teaching seminars that focus on sexual health education through my school. I feel like I could help make a difference in addition to the seminars by becoming a youth ambassador. Healthcare is a subject that's extremely interesting to myself, and enlightening my peers about a subject that I'm passionate about is something I would consider valuable. Becoming a youth ambassador will leave my peers more informed and comfortable about a subject that they maybe once were not before. I feel young people should have access to information in a setting where they are safe and aren't in fear of judgment, and I hope to make this possible within my community.
I am strongly committed to activism work as it relates to HIV and youth empowerment. I currently serve on the Roots & Shoots National Youth Leadership Council to protect people, animals, and the environment. I also frequently volunteer with VolunTEEN Nation, the National Teen Council, iMatter, and Do Something. In my free time, I write computer code and poetry, perform scientific research, and play golf on my school’s Varsity team. I am also involved in building resources for domestic violence survivors in area shelters. I am a huge advocate of promoting bodily autonomy and providing youth the opportunity and information to make smart choices about their own health.
When I was in middle school, in my first health class, I didn’t realize just how problematic the curriculum was. Living in Texas, the only sex education we get is abstinence only. This sort of teaching left out very important aspects of sexual health such as inclusion, how to prevent HIVs and STDs, and what consent is and what it looks like. I realize now these ideas that are ingrained in us at such a young age is what leads to the stigma surrounding sex and sexual diseases. Now as a member of the Ridge Point High School student council I have the power to make a difference. As a feminist, I believe that everyone should be in control of their own bodies. I strive to teach this to as many people as I can. The most important tool for giving back control is education, so my goal as an ambassador for HIVs and STDs is to give education about these diseases to prevent them in the future and stop stigma about them now. Ignorance sparks hate which is why it’s important for teens to stay educated and stop the spread of hate
My passion for helping others was instilled at a very young age from my mother and my father. I have volunteered with Campaign 9:30 which brings attention to the every 9 minutes and 30 seconds someone is diagnosed with HIV. While being a part of this organization I have learned so much about HIV & AIDS, other STI’s, and safer sex practices.. Prior to doing this work I didn’t understand the seriousness of HIV & AIDS. Being in this felid I have met people close to me who are living with HIV which hits close to home. Learning is motivation for me. Gaining new and exciting knowledge is like a brand new hairstyle for me. My passion is to help people anyway that I can.
Young people are the face of the future and we need to speak up about this issue. When people realize how serious this is the impact will be the greatest. I want my generation and future generations to understand this issue and see the bigger picture. I would like for people to be comfortable to talk about this and get rid of the stigma associated with HIV and other viruses. My goal is to touch as many lives as I can in my life time.
My motivation comes from watching my HIV positive uncle face the stigmas and misunderstandings people have about the virus. I am very passionate about enhancing adolescent’s sexual health. My personal experiences inspired me to join “A Sistah saving Sistah “also known as STATUS MATTERS as a peer educator. I want to empower adolescents to take control of their sexual and reproductive health. I also aim to change the risk perception that adolescents have about contracting the virus.
What can my group do to observe NYHAAD? Use these awesome resources and ideas for events to jumpstart your day.
Hold a candlelight vigil to raise awareness about HIV & AIDS and honor young people who have been impacted by this epidemic. Outdoor locations work best for this kind of event. During the vigil, you could invite speakers to talk about the importance of HIV & AIDS advocacy, or just have young people share their personal stories.
Flash mobs have become increasingly popular and are a great way to get people's attention in a creative manner. This kind of event requires commitment and a lot of planning in order to get dance routines and timing correct.
For costumes, you can wear red t-shirts or decorate shirts with an AIDS ribbon or the NYHAAD logo!
If you have access to a theater or even just a room and projector, a movie screening is an ideal event to highlight the impact of HIV & AIDS. This event could be held at a number of venues including college campuses, churches and community centers. It is even possible to ask local theaters to screen the movie or donate space during off-peak hours. There are a great variety of films to choose from and even films with more complicated representations of HIV/AIDS can create an excellent opportunity for a post screening discussion. You could hold a panel discussion afterwards or simply start one with the audience.
Open Mic events are a great opportunity to gather people with commonalities in a shared struggle. Centered around youth and HIV/AIDS, have people sign up to share poetry, spoken word, rap lyrics, or even songs.
Make sure to efficiently promote and plan this event so that participants have time to sign-up and prepare material. Alternatively, this could be done online with people submitting text and video to a website or Facebook page.
If you're a student on a college/high school campus, you could set up a booth or table for NYHAAD. Make sure it's in a high-traffic area so people will see you as they walk by. For instance, in front of the cafeteria or inside the student center. You could also set up somewhere in your community. Like a grocery store or shopping center.
At the table, make sure to have NYHAAD resources and other HIV/AIDS related informational material to hand out to passersby. If you are part of an organization, tabling is a good opportunity to recruit new members or collect email addresses for a periodical newsletter.