Y+ Global launches COVID-19 fund to support young people living with HIV

HARARE – Communities of people living with HIV have been at the forefront of the community-led response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of that response, the Global Network of Young People Living with HIV (Y+ Global), with support from UNAIDS, has launched the Y+ Social Aid Fund for young people living with HIV.

The Y+ Social Aid Fund will be piloted in Nigeria and Malawi, where, with the support of national networks of young people living with HIV ,Y+ Global will offer financial support to young people living with HIV who have been impacted by COVID-19-related restrictions.

“Lockdowns, social instability and treatment interruptions during COVID-19 have further magnified the inequalities that exist in the societies of young people. With grants such as the Y+ Social Aid Fund, young people living with HIV will be able to access basic living essentials that will relieve a portion of the burden on their mental health,” said Igor Kuchin, the Y+ Global Board Chair.

COVID-19 and associated restrictions have had a severe negative impact on the lives of young people living with HIV. Adolescent girls and young women living with HIV are experiencing issues ranging from poor access to menstrual hygiene products to increased need for refuge from gender-based violence while in lockdown. In the 2020 World AIDS Day report, Prevailing against pandemics by putting people at the centre, 27 out of 28 countries surveyed reported that COVID-19 restrictions were impacting antiretroviral therapy initiation for people newly diagnosed with HIV.

“In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, communities of young people living with HIV are once again leading responses and providing new examples of the solidarity, resilience and innovation that have driven and accelerated the HIV response since the beginning of the HIV pandemic,” said Suki Beavers, Director of the UNAIDS Department for Gender Equality, Human Rights and Community Engagement.

It is hoped that this initial roll-out to provide financial assistance to the most vulnerable young people living with HIV globally will be scaled up. UNAIDS is encouraging other partners and funders to support the scale-up of the Y+ Social Aid Fund in order to ensure that more young people living with HIV are able to access health care and other services during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.

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