Thursday, December 08, 2011
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What is the Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS and the Youth Focal Point Program?

Thursday, December 08, 2011
GYCA Logo
GYCA is a youth-led network of nearly 5,000 young leaders and adult allies in over 150 countries working to promote young people’s health and rights in the era of AIDS. Launched by young attendees of the International AIDS Conferences in Barcelona 2002 and Bangkok 2004, GYCA recognizes the potential of young leaders and empowers them with knowledge, skills, resources, and opportunities to expand their own initiatives and engage with the global community working towards “zero new HIV-infections, zero discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths’ 

GYCA’s work is focused in three main areas: Capacity-building and technical assistance; Networking and sharing of best practices; and Political advocacy. We advocate for a human rights-based approach to HIV and AIDS interventions that includes full and accurate information, comprehensive education and services. Because most young people are infected with HIV through sexual intercourse, GYCA reaffirms that sexual and reproductive health and rights must be integrated with HIV and AIDS interventions to succeed. 

Our decision-makers include young people living with HIV. GYCA is committed to working with and for marginalized youth such as injecting drug users, men who have sex with men, sex workers, young women, and youth in resource-constrained areas, and aims to create meaningful youth-adult partnerships. We have offices in New York, Ghana, and Toronto, and work closely with 12 young community advocates serving as Regional Focal Points and approximately 50 serving as National Focal Points globally. 

These Focal Points serve as vital hubs on which the entire network hinges. GYCA members elect active members as regional representatives (28 years old or younger) for a term of training, collaboration with GYCA, and coordination of work regionally. Regional Focal Points (RFPs) serve for two-year terms, and National Focal Points (NFPs) are appointed for renewable one-year terms. They become part of GYCA's decision-making team and contribute to strategy, development, and operations. By investing central resources, including staff time, in cultivating decentralized youth leadership all over the world, we have the dual capacity to fuel grassroots campaigns and to link international and regional efforts with local realities and champions. We likewise have the potential to help gather strategic information on young people’s practices and needs in order to inform and improve program planning and implementation. This on-the-ground information gathering and program implementation is exactly the sort of interventions that will drive the world in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. 

Regional Focal Points link GYCA members in all 12 regions, including technology-connected and non-connected young people. They moderate discussions on the regional listserv, manage activities, and represent GYCA regionally. This collection of activities allows thousands of young people to share information and engender new ways of approaching HIV and AIDS based on constantly changing epidemiological and political information. Well-informed, passionate and increasingly experienced in political organizing, these young leaders are on-call as speakers and participants for events ranging from MTV-sponsored media opportunities to intimate sessions with key decision makers. 

National Focal Points (NFPs) are the main points of contact for GYCA members at the national and community levels. NFPs organize in-person meetings for the national and community memberships and map new organizations and members for GYCA's global directory. They actively engage non-ICT connected members with the myriad of information, opportunities and training material shared on the GYCA network. This gives GYCA its grassroots reach and strength. These young leaders spearhead and initiate targeted national and community level campaigns and projects to create meaningful and measurable impact. 

Our Focal Point alumni are often active beyond their term of service and the Focal Point program continues to grow. GYCA Focal Points gain experience and a network that continues to support them as they go on to positions from which they can affect great change, including working with National AIDS Control Organizations, heading NGOs, and designing effective prevention and outreach programs. In 2011, we are working to scale-up our systematic regional advocacy work by further investing in our Focal Points Program. 

With the support of UNFPA, through the activities described in this proposal, we hope to improve the synergy between local, regional and international advocacy goals and strategy by increased communication between the various levels and investment at the local/national level youth leadership. We also plan to better integrate monitoring and evaluation across our programs by implementing systematic reviews and surveys within our Focal Points Program. By increasing outreach to young people of vulnerable groups, with appropriate support for their meaningful involvement by communicating and partnering more with networks working with most-at-risk communities of youth, we will ensure that GYCA’s work continues to be relevant to those young people most affected by HIV and AIDS. 

For more information on GYCA, please visit: http://gyca.org/

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Editorial Team.
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