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Attended by more than 500 youth, families, members of the public, celebrities and the media, this year's World Youth AIDS Day celebrations kicked off with a star-studded awareness raising youth concert, held on 28 November at the National Theatre located in the heart of Yangon.

Known as the "Red Ribbon Hours" the UNFPA supported event is part of raising awareness on HIV and AIDS prevention among youth as well as reducing related stigma. In Myanmar HIV and AIDS are still too taboo to talk about. As a result many individuals delay or even avoid getting tested. The Red Ribbon Hours initiative started in Myanmar in 2012 and is held annually to help commemorate World AIDS Day on 1 December.

Prior to this year's free-of-charge concert, many of the youth lined up to participate in the UNFPA launched Selfie campaign to help "Lend Their Voice" to raise awareness on youth related issues, including on HIV and AIDS. Many of the youth echoed in their Selfie campaign messages the World AIDS motto of "Getting to Zero (infections)" and to "End discrimination towards persons affected with HIV/AIDS."

"I am really excited about today's event as it is important to empower young people to get correct information so they will know how to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS," said Zarni Win, a 27 year-old Medical student and Peer Educator at the UNFPA supported Youth Development Centre (YDP) in Yangon.

Zarni Win is one of the volunteers who spends all his spare time at the Youth Development Centre, providing advice for Myanmar youth on matters related to sexual reproductive health rights (SRHR) and basic health. In his Selfie statement he wrote "Youth: Smarter than AIDS". He also voiced his support for youth to have "better access to education and employment opportunities." 

Other messages posted in the Youth Selfie campaign said: "May the world be healthy and green! Don't lose heart, people living with HIV! Please go on with your life happily; Do not be Silly and do not get HIV, Be Responsible do not get AIDS; Together we can stop HIV; HIV/AIDS: Getting to zero, Empower patients and community; Silence is Death; Let's help for them to have equal rights and Do not give up Fighting."

Shwe Yee, 18 years-old said after the concert that he was planning on traveling to rural areas to advocate about preventative measures to other youth. "I want to become a Peer Educator and spread my knowledge about HIV and AID in my community. " His Selfie message read "I will disseminate health messages to young people."

During the live evening event the Youth Development Centre performed their signature dance routine "Dance for Life" in which they called for the youth to help ensure that they are part of an "HIV Free Generation". Famous Myanmar vocalists performed at the concert.

On a global scale, 35.3 million people live with HIV/AIDS. In Myanmar the official number of persons living with HIV/AIDS is estimated to be approximately 215,000. According to 2012 official figures, out of the 2015,000 infected persons, 80 percent of those who need antiretroviral therapy treatment (ART) receive it.

The World Youth AIDS Day was organized jointly by UNFPA, the Youth Development Centre (YDP) and the Myanmar Medical Association (MMA).