In 2004, young participants of the Bangkok International AIDS Conference came together to form a global network to build the capacity of young leaders from across the globe, to secure their rights through political advocacy, and to share information and resources with each other.
They saw the need for the network because young people were not achieving their potential in contributing to the AIDS response, despite their wealth of ideas, creativity, motivation and passion. They had no platform through which to share information and best practices with each other, to find resources, to showcase their accomplishments, or to find collaborators for HIV campaigns and projects.
Because young people comprise 40% of all new infections each year, young people must be active participants within the international dialogue. They must be empowered with knowledge, skills, opportunities and resources in order to become successful agents of change and to build new leadership.
The network was spearheaded by four Co-Founders:
Key supporters included Jennifer Corriero (Canada) and Mike Furdyk (Canada) from TakingITGlobal, Benjamin Quinto (USA) from the Global Youth Action Network and Violeta Ross Quiroga (Bolivia). Dabesaki Mac-Ikemenjima (Nigeria) secured initial support for the network from Peter Piot, former Executive Director of UNAIDS, and contributed to GYCA's expansion in Africa.
After the conference, youth attendees of Bangkok and adult allies were invited to participate in a month-long e-consultation to provide information on the most pressing needs, goals and challenges young people face in their AIDS work. They determined GYCA's activities, structure and governance. 365 young people participated in the formation of GYCA, and the network has grown to over 7,000 members since then.