The Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition sponsored six (6) participants – through scholarships funded by the Robert Carr Network Fund- to attend the recently concluded AIDS 2022 global conference in Montreal Canada. One scholarship recipient was Kayla Wright from the Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network (JYAN).
Kayla participated in two panel discussions as part of the Onkwehón:we Youth Networking Zone situated in the Global Village section of the conference. The first panel discussion titled ‘Leaving no one behind: tackling the challenges and opportunities for HIV prevention, information sharing and service delivery among marginalized adolescent and youth groups’, was held on July 30 2022. During this session, Kayla spoke about planning HIV interventions for in and out-of-school adolescents and young people. She pointed out that there’s a need for comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) programmes to be implemented in school curricula to properly engage young people on issues surrounding Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights.
The second panel discussion Kayla participated in was titled ‘The Pool Talk Series – Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) Beyond the Classroom: Impact of COVID-19’. During robust discussions, Kayla stressed the importance of comprehensive sexuality education in the fight against HIV. She argued that knowledge is a very good preventive measure and poor comprehensive sexuality education can negatively impact the HIV response.
Kayla was delighted with the overall conference experience. “I had the pleasure of working alongside members of the United Nations Population Fund and I have learned so much from the conference sessions I attended, as well as, the persons I’ve met. Outside of the conference. I’m grateful to have experienced Montreal,” she said.
The experience also left her with key learnings that will positively impact the work she does in Jamaica; “I think becoming aware of the 2030 Goals, relating to ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030, has kickstarted my desire to reintroduce advocacy surrounding the HIV response to JYAN as I was lucky enough to meet persons interested in working with our group. Also learning about the general issues of inaccessibility, inequality and racism that impact HIV treatment in places such as the Caribbean, Central America and Africa, I have a new perspective on the different ways advocacy around the HIV response can be done. I’ll be adopting these perspectives if given the opportunity to continue the advocacy in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean,” she noted.
Kayla is grateful for the opportunity provided by CVC. “I am, and will forever be, so grateful to CVC for sponsoring my trip. I took the sponsorship as an opportunity to learn more about HIV/AIDS in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean through extensive research so that I’d be able to properly add to conversations I’d be a part of at the AIDS 2022 conference. The research I did to prepare for the conference benefited me greatly as now I’m more interested in advocacy regarding the HIV response and based on the knowledge I’ve garnered at the conference itself, especially as it relates to HIV/AIDS in youth, I want to be more active in advocacy,” she said.
The AIDS 2022 global conference was hosted in-person and virtually in Montreal, Canada, from July 29 to August 02. The AIDS conference 2022 called on the world to come together to re-engage and follow the science, to help define future research agendas, shift latest evidence to action, and chart a new consensus on overcoming the HIV epidemic as a threat to public health and individual well-being.