This commentary describes young people’s leadership from the perspective of a youth-led organization in the Link Up project in Burundi, Réseau National des Jeunes vivant avec le VIH. It describes processes that enable young people to guide, influence, deliver, and improve health service provision; the challenges faced by Réseau National des Jeunes vivant avec le VIH and how they are addressing these challenges.
In addition to being a human right, the meaningful participation of young people has long been recognized by key actors in the field as central to the provision of effective and inclusive sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) health services . Comprehensive youth-friendly SRHR and HIV education, together with tailored programming designed for and by young people, can increase uptake and access of services, leading to lower rates of early pregnancy, HIV incidence, and other negative health outcomes . However, there is limited documentation on exactly what successful youth participation and leadership in the design and delivery of SRHR health services looks like in practice.
This commentary showcases youth leadership in the Link Up project in Burundi from 2013 to 2016, including what was required to meaningfully support youth-led organizations, common challenges, and how listening to and learning from young people benefitted partners in delivering integrated SRHR and HIV programming and advocacy work. In particular, the report shares the experience of the Burundian implementing organization, Réseau National de Jeunes Vivant avec le VIH (RNJ+) (National Network of Young People Living with HIV), the national network of young people living with HIV in Burundi.
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