A force for change.
Young people must be given opportunities to participate in decision-making at all levels. Some UN organizations have acknowledged the importance of such participation in a wide range of activities, including caring for the environment, teaching each other about life skills, and encouraging peers to adopt healthy behaviors. A direct commitment to young people's participation is also clear in international conferences where young people have been asked to speak. However, youth participation in such conferences is far from enough, for young speakers are typically limited to only telling about their own experiences. Rather, young people need to be encouraged and allowed to make recommendations which will be given serious consideration. Especially to reduce new HIV infections and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS, young people need to be involved in planning, making decisions, and conducting and evaluating relevant policies and programs at the local, national, and international levels. Examples are presented of political, media, and sexual and reproductive health programs involving youth in Zambia, the UK, the US, Malawi, and Thailand.