Acronymicon, Vol. 1: A Young Sex Workers’ Guide to Youth Networks and United Nations Agencies

Will Rockwell

by Will Rockwell

In an effort to introduce myself as a NSWP blogger for the International AIDS Conference (IAC) in Vienna, I’ve written the first installment of the ‘Acronymicon,’ av go-to guide for the labyrinth of acronyms you’ll need for a well-informed encounter with groups involved with the Vienna Conference. I’m Will Rockwell, a 23 year-old sex worker in New York City, and I have represented NSWP at several UN consultations and fund committee meetings on the subject of young sex workers between the ages of 15 and 24. If you have doubts about the importance of the seemingly arbitrary division of ages 15 to 24, consider that almost half of all new HIV infections in the world are among people under 25! Of those new infections, the majority occur among ‘key populations,’ including young sex workers. If you’d like to get involved with youth activities and issues at NSWP, please email me at

For my first post of the ‘Acronymicon’ I’ve included a reference sheet for youth-led and youth-serving organisations of relevance to AIDS 2010 participants. Let the alphabet soup begin!

Note: According to the UN system, young people is a category of person between the ages of 15 and 24. The UN definition of young people does not include children, although Article 1 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child defines children as including anyone under the age of 18. For those of you who are interested but might be over the 24 year-old marker, experienced youth organisers who have ‘aged out’ are often provided an exception if they are under 30.

The Vienna YouthForce and Youth Programme at the International AIDS Conference
Ever since the Barcelona AIDS Conference in 2000, the YouthForce has convened youth programs and activities at the biennial International AIDS Conference for young people ages 15 to 24.

Youth-Led Networks Representing ‘Key Populations’

  • GNP+ YPLHIV—Global Network of People living with HIV—Young People Living With HIV Program: GNP+ is a longtime network of people living with HIV advocating for the improvement of the quality of life for PLWH. GNP+ recently launched an e-consultation to extend from April 26th to May 14th in order to begin a youth program by and for YPLHIV ages 15 to 24. Any young sex workers living with HIV and interested in representing NSWP on this issue in the future should contact me at
  • ILGYO—International Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Youth and Student Organization: ILGYO is an international LGBTQ youth network advocating against discrimination and for comprehensive education and health services for LGBTQ youth. ILGYO produces policy reports and participates in international meetings and consultations on young people.
  • Young Positives — Young Positives is an online community for young people living with HIV between the ages of 18 and 30. While Young Positives is based in and directed towards YPLHIV in the Netherlands and Belgium, their resource page, discussion boards, and chat options are available to English and Dutch-speaking youth around the world.
  • Youth RISE—Youth Resources, Information, Support, and Education for Reducing Drug Related Harm: Youth RISE advocates for harm reduction approaches for young people using drugs through a peer-to-peer approach focused on “honest education, provision of safer means of using drugs, and implementation of humane drug laws.” Youth RISE is one of the few key population representatives for young people, the others being the ILGYO and GNP+’s YPLHIV program. Youth RISE has a special status for the Vienna Conference, because of the Conference’s focus on harm reduction for injecting drug users (IDUs).

Global Youth-Led Organisations

  • CHOICE—CHOICE for youth and sexuality: CHOICE works for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) for young people at the national level in the Netherlands as well as internationally. CHOICE include all “means, services, care, and information that young people need to make free and responsible decisions about their sexuality and the number and spacing of their children” in their definition of SRHR. CHOICE staff, board members, and volunteers and between 15 and 28.
  • GYAN—Global Youth Action Network: GYAN is an international network of 600 youth NGOS spread out over 150 countries. GYAN hosts GYCA, which is its representative on young people and HIV/AIDS.
  • GYCA—Global Youth Coalition on HIV/AIDS: GYCA is an international youth coalition claiming 4,000 members in 150 countries working to fight HIV/AIDS through treatment and prevention. GYCA is a program of GYAN.
  • HYLF—HIV Young Leaders Fund: Hosted by the HIV/AIDS Collaborative Fund, the HYLF is a ‘community-run’ fund of global youth networks, the mission of which is to ‘fund the unfundable.’ NSWP is an organisational member of the HYLF Steering Committee. May 1st was the deadline for grant proposals for the 2010-2011 funding cycle, but please stay tuned for more from HYLF.
  • TIG—TakingITGlobal:  TakingITGlobal is an online community of “youth interested in global issues and creating positive change” that has been around since 2000. Representatives from youth-led and youth-involved organisations often have a member profile and listservs are often run through TIG.
  • YC—Youth Coalition: The Youth Coalition works on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) for young people ages 15 to 29. YC focuses on advocacy, splitting its time between advocacy trainings and representing the organization at UN conferences and intergovernmental meetings.
  • YouAct—European Youth Network on Sexual and Reproductive Rights: YouAct is a regional network of SRHR youth activists in Europe. YouAct is participating as an organizing partner of the Vienna YouthForce under special consideration as a regional partner.
  • Y-PEER—Youth Peer Education Network: Y-PEER is a network of more than 500 non-profits and governmental institutions supported by UNFPA specialising in peer-led trainings in SRHR, with membership in Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East, North and East Africa, and Brazil.