Building sustainable leadership within the positive community: YPLHIV Leadership
GNP+, with support from the Ford Foundation, has embarked on a set of consultative processes to identify the priority leadership needs of young people living with HIV and strategies how to best address these needs. This has been done with a view to sustaining the considerable contribution that the positive community has made to global efforts around HIV.
The community of people living with HIV have played a critical role in the HIV response over the last 30 years: from the development of the Denver Principles, articulating the immediate needs and priorities for people living with HIV, in the 1980s, to the treatment activism that made living a long life with HIV a reality for millions in the 1990s, to the Universal Access and human rights discourses of the last 10 years where people living with HIV have been at the centre of the response.
However, the strength and influence of the positive community depends to a large degree on the leadership within the community. In an era, where the HIV industry has professionalized and there is increased competition for limited funding, building and maintaining strong leadership within the positive community is crucial to sustain the momentum created by the positive movement to date. It is essential therefore that the HIV response recognizes the need to build the leadership capacity of young people living with HIV and invest in the future of the response.
Over the last 3 months, GNP+ has led electronic consultations and surveys in 5 different languages with young people living with HIV to identify the key barriers and opportunities to building the leadership capacity for the future of the positive community. Using the results from these consultations, focus groups discussions were held to explore the common themes and engage with established positive leaders to highlight the ways in which the response has changed over time.
Both of these processes led to a face to face meeting to strategize on what needs to be in place to offer structured and formalized support and mentorship to new emerging young positive leaders. All participants, including young people living with HIV, established positive leaders, UN partners and other key resource people, contributed to the development of an exciting new framework for building sustainable positive leadership.
The collective responsibility to ensure the HIV response has this strong positive leadership was overwhelming throughout this process. While GNP+ will play a critical role in taking this work forward, it will depend on the commitment of many other actors to ensure success. A report will become available in November 2011.