Get to Zero

This year’s World AIDS Day theme is about getting to zero – zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero discrimination. Medical students around the world gather this week on the local, national and international level to mark the World AIDS Day. Together they have extensively organized conferences, lectures, peer education training sessions, flash-mobs, parties and concerts in order to spread awareness and knowledge about HIV/AIDS. Thousands of them with one strong message – ‘Get To Zero!’

Uniting their activities together on the international level, they produced the IFMSA World AIDS Day 2011 video and the IFMSA World AIDS Day 2011 posters that demonstrate medical students from 27 countries representing the number of new HIV infections per year in their countries. The physicians-in-training capture their inspiration to reducing the number of new HIV infections per year to zero. These not only inspired, but aware medical students recognize that controlling and eradicating the spread of the virus is the only truly effective way forward in the HIV/AIDS epidemic: ”We in IFMSA decided to raise our voices in highlighting the importance of making new HIV infections get to zero.”

Thirty years into the HIV epidemic provides us an opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved and what needs to be done. Looking at the UNAIDS Global Reports of 2009 and 2010, the number of AIDS-related deaths is stabilizing on an estimate of 1.8 million which is seemingly lower than years before. This success is thanks to the important achievements in the treatment of the virus and in delaying the AIDS defining illnesses and death. However, 10 million people still need treatment and do not have access to antiretroviral therapy. Recently the data shows that in some high-income countries where the treatment has been made widely available, the number of new HIV infections is increasing, especially in some populations (i.e. men having sex with men). Comparing the number of new HIV infections on a global level in 2009 and 2010, we see the increase from an estimate of 2.7 to 2.8 million new HIV infections per year. Although it is lower than in the late 1990s, the trend of new HIV infections per year is again increasing, and the time is now to reverse it before it takes the swing with the consequences that could be devastating.

IFMSA’s Perspective
We, in IFMSA believe that the more treatment we have, the more prevention we need! Latest results showing that treatment as much as prevention can reduce the risk of transmission of HIV by 96% are encouraging and exciting, but still it will take years to put the estimated 10 million people on the treatment. With the disappointing trial results of the microbicides gel failing to prevent HIV transmission, more than ever it is necessary to recognize the importance of the effective preventative methods that are often not transcribed into consolidated, organized and serious actions. It is clear that successful HIV prevention programs need to be based on providing a comprehensive approach to HIV/AIDS education addressing sexuality, gender equality, sexual orientation, attitudes and values. We believe it is the only effective way in achieving behavioral change and adopting safer sexual practices which will lead to significant and rapid decrease in the number of people newly infected with HIV.

We also feel that young people need to be involved in every aspect from policy development to implementation to eradicate the spread of HIV/AIDs. The importance of such comprehensive sexual education as HIV prevention is even higher when we know that young people aged 15-24 account for 42% of all new HIV infections. There is clear evidence that young people are disproportionately affected by the HIV epidemic and that the AIDS response must be shaped to respond to these urging numbers of young people being at the spear tip of the epidemic.

We believe this is a goal than can and must be achieved by empowering, educating and investing in the youth.

We in IFMSA, as a youth-led non governmental organization, see ourselves as a advocates for young people, those newly infected with HIV daily and those millions living under the everyday threat of becoming infected, when we say that now is the time of making the new HIV infections get to zero. On this World AIDS Day, we are calling upon institutional organizations, governments and stakeholders to reaffirm that they must accord top priority to making investments in putting young people in the center of the fight against HIV/AIDS as it is for the well-being of our tomorrow.

Joško MIŠE
IFMSA Director on Reproductive Health including AIDS 2011/2012

About IFMSA:
For over 60 years, the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) has striven to foster a more caring future generation of physicians. Our Federation represents over 1.2 million medical students from 106 national member organizations from 99 countries across the globe. The IFMSA is an active network of young people engaged in their communities in order to contribute to achieving global health. Enjoying official relations with the WHO since 1969, IFMSA is recognized as the international voice of medical students. We organize 11,000 medical student exchanges a year and a wealth of student-led projects which fall into four main fields of interest: medical education, public health, human rights and peace, and reproductive health, including HIV/AIDs.

Day 4 in the 7th UNESCO Youth Forum in Paris:A happy ending!

Welcome to the 4th and last day of the 7th Youth Forum live from UNESCO headquarter in Paris.
IFMSA  was missing one powerful member: Our LO to SCORP Nassima as she had to leave the previous day  but the delegation was still as effective as before.
In the morning session, every region had a meeting to discuss the final report written by the drafting committee. After 2 hours of suggestions and amendments, the delegates gathered all together to agree on the final draft.
As I said before” EFFECTIVENESS ” but also “SATISFACTION” were the key words of the day.
I was extremely happy to see that my recommendation for the National Commissions to advertise the participation program in their countries and prioritize youth initiatives was adopted in the report.
We even succeeded to include the recommendations about sexual education and HIV/AIDS to which Joško, our SCORA-D contributed  during the ‘cafe discussion’ on HIV-related issues and AIDS activism. For instance, IFMSA was part of the interview and the article published in UNAIDS website
In the afternoon ,me and Josko had a meeting with the HIV/AIDS UNESCO section that were very helpful and open to our questions and suggestions. We discussed new opportunities that lie ahead such as externals for the Regional Meetings and General Assemblies, collaboration on sexuality education programmes, creating a publication of good practices on sexuality education programmes driven and led by youth organizations (hint – SCORA and IFMSA!). They were very interested in that idea that definitely must be followed upon!
Later, I met the people from the Climate Change section and gathered UNESCO interesting publications about both topics.I also tried to get UNESCO send us some hard copies for our next meetings.
Last night and of course last adventures of the forum: Lamia loosing her hat and gloves that she finds back  while waiting for the metro in the possession of a youth delegate from Uganda. Joško experiencing the Magheb culture in a nice Algerian restaurant with Tunisian and Algerian delegates. And last but not least Josko forgetting the IFMSA posters twice in the way to our way back home.  This time we did take the right metro direction 🙂
Dear IFMSA friends, this is the end of the IFMSA participation to the 7th UNESCO Youth Forum. Being both an IFMSA observer and a Tunisian young delegate was a rewarding learning experience: Exchanging of leadership experiences, identifying youth problems and advocating for change, contributing to the recommendations, observing the intercultural interaction…
The youth forum is organized every 2 years and the delegates are selected by the National Commissions. Therefore,I’d invite all of you to be in contact with your national commissions so that you may get the chance to be part of the next big adventure.
And as s LO to UNESCO,I would like to emphisize on the importance of UNESCO as one of the main partner of our Federation.I encourage all of you to seek for more information about what this UN agency is doing and how you can benefit from it.
Hope you were pleased to read this report and thank you very much for you trust. Also big thank you to my fellow IFMSA delegates Joško Miše (SCORA Director) and Nassima Dzair (SCORP LO) in being part of this amazing adventure and for giving input for the blog.
Your devoted LO to UNESCO Lamia Jouini.

Day 3 of the 7th Youth Forum in Paris:That’s just the begining!!!

Proceeding with the tremendous Youth Forum in Paris !!!
Today, our small but very efficient delegation was more and more active.
From IFMSA observer,I moved to the double status of IFMSA observer/Tunisian delegate.Now I feel unique and powerful:)
To become so,I met with the UNESCO ambassador of UNESCO here in an other UNESCO building for member states representatives.He was very happy and enthusiastic to meet me and assign me as Tunisian delegate and very proud when I told him about my position in IFMSA and what we are doing.He was very eager to help and put me in contact with the UNESCO chiefs of sectors and invited me to visit him again after the Youth Forum.
And here I found my self sitting with another Tunisian, Lebanese and Iraquian delegates making the final draft of the recommendations of the Arabic countries (Just forgot to mention that the night before we had a meeting with all the Arabic delegates to discuss our recommendations to this draft and that I was using my IFMSA skills as facilitator to moderate discussion:).
So I explain you what I meant by POWERFUL. As Tunisian delegate I could provide my inputs to the Arabic countries draft which will be taken in consideration in the final draft and I advocated for NGOs to be more heard and have our own session during the next forums with our own recommendations.Yes I’m kind of a double agent :p
So let’s hope this will work somehow!!!
After a meeting with the President of IPSF (International Pharmaceutical Students Associations) where she clearly expressed her wish to renew our Memorandum Of Understanding that expired last August, I spent some part of the afternoon with an another Tunisian UNESCO assistant working in the Youth section trying to understand how UNESCO works and how it’s structured.
   They call it ‘the big house’ here!!!
The last but not least part of the afternoon, Joško and me participated in the HIV/AIDS parallel session organized by UNAIDS and UNESCO about youth involvement in HIV/AIDS issues.
Our SCORA-D was one of the main contributor to the session and he promoted everything what IFMSA is doing in this field. He even lead the small working group that drafted the recommendations from the sessions and he presented them to the drafting commitee of the Youth Forum who decided to take into account five out of seven recommendations made!
Our LO to SCORP attended again the ongoing “conflict resolutions “workshop with Forest Whitakers and she introduced him IFMSA.He was definitely interested and impressed!
I’m so proud of the IFMSA delegation!
“Pour le rapport:
Today was the second day of the Conflict resolution workshop of Forest Whitaker and his team: Rashjree Patel and Aldo Civico.
It was on two parts that took the whole day, and it was very intensive.
Intensive in amount of information, intensive in quality, intensive in the rising of awareness it brought.
I think I experienced a paradigm shift today.
We touched upon everything from Leadership, Perception, Communication, Conflict Management, Problem-Solving to Awareness, Power of the mind, and breathing&meditation.
This has brought me a new model of a workshop that could be brought to the IFMSA.
I have been talking to Rashjree, Aldo and Forest, and will stay in touch with them to see how they could help implement this in SCORP, or in IFMSA in general.This workshop was so so inspiring and empowering, and the paradigm shift lies in this. You start perceiving things differently and you are aware of how much your personal leadership when founded on the right values can bring to the collective leadership.

This has truly been a defining experience that brings even more positivity and inspiration into IFMSA work” NASSIMA sharing her experience.

We are really lucky to be here and meet such an inspiring people,people that are changing the world, young leaders that are striving for a better future, activists that are fighting every single day to promote a culture of peace and equality…and I can see in this heroes all of you: IFMSA members and medical students all over the world.
In the end of the day, Joško and me again sitting in the metro talking about the meeting we are having tomorrow with a HIV/AIDS sector in UNESCO when suddenly Joško asks: Are you thinking what I am thinking? – Yes, we realized that we again took the wrong metro direction…”Jamais 2 sans 3 “as we say in French!! Hopefully , Josko’s computer is for sure in his bag this time!!!
Hope you are enjoying sharing this exciting adventure with us!
Keep checking out our blog!!
We’ll tell you absolutely everyhting you need to know!!
Your faithful but sleepy report from Paris
 Lamia,the UNESCO girl