Aubrey Weber, FHI 360

This month marks the first anniversary of the formation of MOSAIC’s NextGen Squad. The NextGen Squad is a team of paid youth advocates under the age of 30 who shape, influence, and participate in a variety of project activities.

Simply put, the NextGen Squad makes us better. They are the experts that hold us accountable to our five strategic priorities. Through their invaluable contributions to the project, they lend us their voices and perspectives and bring a dynamic energy to HIV prevention efforts in their countries and around the world.

In the past year, NextGen Squad members have contributed to a diverse set of project activities. For example, they participated in the design and implementation of four research studies, including CATALYST, and the development and testing of the HIV Prevention Ambassador Training Package & Toolkit. They shared their expertise at two international conferences and during four global webinars. They also authored or co-authored eight blog posts and one journal article defining principles for a choice-based approach to HIV prevention.

Today, we celebrate their first year as a team by highlighting just a few of their many accomplishments and sharing some of their reflections on the future of MOSAIC and HIV prevention.

Tema and Maggie in Johannesburg, South Africa (David Penney/MOSAIC).

Tema, a trained nurse midwife, provided feedback on PEPFAR’s Country/Regional Operational Plan 2023 Guidance as part of the Adolescent Girls and Young Women Task Team.

By the end of MOSAIC, there will be more prevention options for young people and more young people will be safe from HIV. I also hope that MOSAIC will help to… eliminate stigma associated with using PrEP in our communities. I also think that maybe by the time MOSAIC ends, accessing HIV prevention services will be like accessing any other health prevention method, like family planning.

Nts’ebo in Maseru, Lesotho, during a training break (Aubrey Weber/MOSAIC).

Nts’ebo and Sanele facilitated the Empathways activity during the CATALYST study provider training in Lesotho and Zimbabwe.

In five years, I hope to see a shift in how health care services are delivered. I would like to see youth-friendly environments where young people are not judged for seeking PrEP. I would like to see at least the majority of young people in my country have access to knowledge on preventative measures… If the majority of young people are aware of HIV prevention strategies, it will be simpler to advocate for and persuade their friends to learn more about these approaches so that they may make informed decisions about their lives.

Chantel, Sasha (NextGen Squad support team member), Celi, Havana, Tema, Nts’ebo, Luwi, and Maggie visit the Wits RHI offices in Johannesburg, South Africa (David Penney/MOSAIC).

Merci, Havana, Maggie, Nts’ebo, and Sanele facilitated study Community Advisory Board and/or Youth Advisory Board sessions in their respective countries.

I see MOSAIC being able to address some of the norms that communities and societies have had over a long period of time. These are things that I am really hoping we will not need to deal with in the next five years because they are a huge barrier and are major contributors to the challenges we currently encounter. I am really hoping that MOSAIC will be able to provide that avenue to work around cultural norms, religious beliefs, customs—things people are used to that hinder and prevent young people from getting services in general.

Celi facilitates a trauma-informed approach training in Johannesburg, South Africa (David Penney/MOSAIC).

Celi co-facilitated a training on a trauma-informed approach to research for CATALYST study data collectors in South Africa and PrEP ring study teams in Eswatini.

We as the NextGen Squad are young, powerful, and passionate about HIV prevention, but we understand that we can’t do this work alone. We need support from our parents, caregivers, male partners, community leaders, governments, policymakers, funders, and donors to help remove the barriers that affect HIV prevention. We need more options that are easy to access and use and MOSAIC prioritizes this and more. We need meaningful engagement with young people to have a better understanding of our lived experiences and preferences. What I love about this project is that our voices are not silenced, and our contributions are taken into consideration.

Chantel, Luwi, Maggie, and Celi have a laugh in Maseru, Lesotho, during the HIV Prevention Ambassador facilitators’ training (Aubrey Weber/MOSAIC).

Luwi and Rubuna participated in the review and update of national PrEP policy technical guidelines and/or CAB PrEP implementation plans in Zambia and Uganda.

The world I envision for my peers and me is one where young people—especially adolescent girls and young women—have adequate knowledge and choice to confidently make informed decisions, have access to a wide range of HIV prevention products, and freely access health services without fear of being judged or hindered by any of the 4Ps (parents, peers, partners, or providers) who are key influencers to the decisions that adolescent girls and young women make.


To learn more about MOSAIC’s NextGen Squad, click here.

Featured Image: NextGen Squad members enjoy each other’s company at the HIV Prevention Ambassador Facilitators’ Training in Maseru, Lesotho (Aubrey Weber/MOSAIC).