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Youth Innovation in HIV Prevention: Lift-Off for Project LIYT

Youth Innovation in HIV Prevention: Lift-Off for Project LIYT

By Chris Wilson-Smith & Michael Everett, MHS | July 25, 2019
HIV/Sexual Health Trainer (CW-S) & Project Coordinator (ME), ETR

How do we celebrate the innovative spirit of youth? How do we encourage young people's creative leadership and put it to work to solve real-world problems? How do we leverage youth interests and abilities in technology to amplify their power?

ETR’s YTH Initiative is delivering a mentorship program that will do all of these things. Introducing Project LIYT (Leadership + Innovation + Youth + Technology)! This project will engage the talents of extraordinary young people. They will develop strategies to promote better youth access to and utilization of HIV prevention, testing and treatment services.

Do you know or work with such youth? Are you such a youth? We hope you’ll help us encourage eligible youth to apply for this extraordinary opportunity.

What Project LIYT Does

The goal of LIYT is to stimulate and support youth-driven and youth-centered innovation in HIV services. It will do this by offering mini-grants of up to $5,000 to selected youth. They will be partnered with tech professionals and supported as they co-create solutions for youth living with HIV and those at risk.

This is a 12-month mentorship. Applications are open now but will close on August 15, 2019.

The Rationale

Far too often, the voices of youth and people of color have been left out of technology and research spaces—exactly the kinds of places where solutions to the HIV epidemic are developed. Paradoxically, in the U.S. youth and young adults (ages 13-34) experience the highest rates of new HIV infections. Among young gay and bisexual men (ages 13-24), 82% are youth of color. Youth with HIV are the least likely of any age group to be linked to care in a timely manner.

LIYT is designed to change that. It will not only give youth a seat at the table. It will allow them to decide what the table will be and who will be a part of it. This project sees youth as valued and respected assets in their communities. We can create more effective and relevant programs when we involve youth as partners rather than subjects or clients.

Youth Know What Is Needed

“It’s important because it is their generation. They know what is needed and what is best. We can assist and support youth, but they should be the ones taking the lead on initiatives and programs.”

Adrian Neil, Judge for Project LIYT









Source: CDC (2019). HIV in the United States and Dependent Areas

What Will Happen in LIYT?

If you work with young people, you’ve witnessed their abundant creativity. We want to put that to work! Young people will lead this innovative project from concept to scale. They will create a product that will decrease HIV-related stigma among their peers. As a consequence, their peers will be empowered to seek testing, become enrolled in ongoing care if they test positive, and take steps to promote their own and others’ best health outcomes.

How epic is that?

Micro Funding: That’s the Proof!

“It’s important to provide micro funding to support youth-led initiatives that advance the conversation around HIV/AIDS. This gives the next generation of activists a chance to flex their skills and show that they deserve a seat at the table when it comes to making decisions that will help end the epidemic.”

Cody Lopez Dyer Cab, Judge for Project LIYT

Who Can Apply?

This ground-breaking project is open to youth ages 13-24. Priority will be given to Black, African American and Latinx youth. Applicants must be U.S. residents who are living with or affected by HIV. Weight will be given to youth with leadership experience (e.g., volunteering, community engagement, school-based extracurricular activities).

Applicants will need to present an innovative idea that promotes HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care among youth from backgrounds similar to their own.

See all the details at the application page, here.

Please Extend the Call!

Do you believe, as we do, that we have an ethical obligation to support and amplify youth voice? If so, please extend the call for applications among eligible youth you know. If you’re a young person yourself, consider applying. Youth have ideas on these issues that are both imaginative and practical. This project is a unique opportunity to promote those ideas and empower youth as leaders. We are thrilled to be playing a part.

Note: The LIYT Project is supported through a grant from ViiV Healthcare, which develops new treatments for HIV and develops and supports sustainable community programs with and for the HIV community.


Chris Wilson-Smith is an HIV/Sexual Health Trainer and Project Coordinator at ETR. He can be reached at Michael Everett, MHS, is a Project Coordinator at ETR. He can be reached at

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