18. Five ways Young People Can Help Create an AIDS-free Generation

EGPAF Ambassador Fátima Ptacek at Kids 4 Kids NYC.

Ben Asen Photography

HIV/AIDS is the second leading cause of death for boys and girls ages 10 to 19 years old globally. In particular, young girls -- girls just like me -- are infected with HIV at 4 times the rate of boys. Why, you ask? One of the main reasons for this is the fear of stigma and discrimination around that young people living with HIV experience every day.

We can have an enormous impact on how HIV is perceived and experienced by our fellow teens. Just letting a young girl or boy know that being HIV-positive doesn’t define them, that it doesn’t change who they are as a friend, classmate, or neighbor, is HUGE. Whether you’re here in the United States or in sub-Saharan Africa — letting our peers living with HIV know that they are accepted matters.

Teens Are Powerful Agents of Change

We are certainly not “too young” to get involved or to have a positive, lasting impact, but even if you want to help, it can be so hard to know where or how to start. Here are just five things that any young person anywhere in the world can do to make a difference right now:

  1. Speak Up and Get Social

    Social media is a powerful tool that helps educate and fight stigma. Share messages of encouragement of your own and follow @EGPAF to retweet or post to your Facebook and Instagram. If your message helps just one person understand HIV better or inspires them to share the same, you will have made a difference. I’ll be doing the same on twitter @fatimaptacek and Facebook.
  2. Give Positively 

    Make a positive impact by sharing one of EGPAF’s beautiful and powerful e-cards with your family and friends. For every e-card you send, EGPAF partner Jewelers for Children (JFC) will donate $5 toward ending AIDS in children.
  3. Give a Smile
    EGPAF while filling your virtual shopping cart for the holidays with AmazonSmile! It's easy: 1) select EGPAF as your Amazon beneficiary 2) get shopping at smile.amazon.com (instead of the regular Amazon.com link).
  4. Test Your Knowledge
When it comes to ending HIV, knowledge is power. See how much you know about mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and learn a lot in the process, by taking this three-question quiz. It only takes a few minutes, I promise, and for every person who takes the quiz EGPAF will receive $5 from JFC. It’s that easy.
  5. Get Tested
    I can’t say this enough—knowing your status is the best way to keep you and your partner safe. Only 10% of young men and 15% of young women in sub-Saharan Africa know their status. Changing these numbers is essential to achieving an AIDS-free generation, and as friends and peers we have a duty to encourage and support testing. If you’re HIV positive you can start treatment early and keep yourself healthy, it’s that simple! If you live in the U.S., find free, confidential, HIV-testing services near you at aids.gov..

Whether you do one of these, or do them all, you’ll have a real impact on the lives of boys, girls, and their families infected with and affected by HIV. An AIDS-free generation isn’t just a dream, together we WILL make it a reality.

Find out about more ways to take action to create an AIDS-free generation here.

Because an AIDS-free generation is not just a dream, from November 24 through December 26 we are highlighting 25 ways that EGPAF, our partners, and every-day people are helping and/or can help make it a reality. Pediatric HIV/AIDS is solvable, but we can't do it alone. Each and every one of us has an important role to play.