Youth Stop Aids- It Ain't Over!


Courtesy of Chanelle Manton photography

Courtesy of Chanelle Manton photography
Last week I went to an interesting panel named 'Aids Activism', the idea behind this was a Q+A and a open panel discussion on HIV, the movements that have been done around this and discussing the stigmas connected with HIV/AIDS, especially as last week was World Aids Day, it seemed fitting. Sussex, Stop AIDS and LGBTQ+ organised the event, which took place at the Sussex University campus (came with free wine!) with a fantastic panel of speakers including:

The speakers + organiser Hugh Stirling and members of the Youth Sussex Stop Aids and Ellie Priest (member of LGBTQ+ community (Courtesy of Chanelle Manton Photography)
Courtesy of Chanelle Manton Photography

Edwin J. Bernard

Edwin is the global co-ordinator of the HIV Justice Network, based in Brighton but with an international reach, which focuses on ending the inappropriate use of the criminal law to regulate and punish people living with HIV, also known as HIV criminalization.
Formerly an editor at HIV information charity, NAM, he has been living with HIV for more than 30 years, and has worked with UK, European and Global organisations to create human rights-based, evidence-informed policies that help support people living with HIV by ending HIV-related stigma, discrimination and criminalisation.

Revati Chawla

Revati works at the International HIV AIDS Alliance as a programmes leader. The alliance is dedicated to ending AIDS through community action. They now work with communities in over 40 countries to take local, national and global action on HIV, health and human rights.

Dr Robert James

Robert James is an associate lecturer in law at Birkbeck college who inadvertently collects medical conditions beginning with the letter 'H'. He is currently a patient rep at the Lawson Unit and his doctoral thesis looked at the changes in HIV activism in the UK after the advent of effective treatment.

The topics will focus on HIV/AIDS Activism in both a US/European and Global context, with an introduction to activist movements around HIV/AIDS and the importance of their history. 
AIDS Ribbon (Courtesy of Chanelle Manton Photography)

With a vast selection of speakers it was certainly an interesting panel of people. What was really interesting about this panel is how we discussed activism as a whole; the idea that we should stop protesting against the government and rather with them, which I highly agree with, as much as our personal views may be, the government is the best way to get action across, so by emailing MPs, to talking to the Priminister, these actions, as long as they are done in good taste, can make a difference without the need to set anything on fire, or crashing any shop fronts in the process. However there was also a debate on the fine line between working with and against the government in fear of being arrested, which sparked the question of; how can we as youth get our voices heard without risking our livelihoods? As difficult as it is in our current situation as young people, we still want the ability to be able to get careers as we get older, yet make a difference. It was discussed that in finding the line of debate, and argument. Which again was riveting to listen to. 
The panel + audience (Courtesy of Chanelle Manton Photography)

Later on in the panel there was a discussion on using media as a form to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS, it seems over the past couple years, thanks to Youth Stop Aids, we are finding ourselves becoming more and more aware of the disease, how to deal with it, and how it is caused. On the other hand what really made me curious, was how these panel of people discussed HIV in terms from a homosexual's perspective, only focusing on this. Whereas it was pointed out briefly that women are the biggest victims of HIV/AIDS, which begged the question of stigmation, in the booklet we were given, I quote, 'biggest killer of women worldwide', so that lit a question of how can we dissolve the stigma around this just being on homosexuals? Although it was mentioned that due to our city (Brighton) it is found commonly in homosexuals, and it was quoted from Chawla that it is 'dangerous to generalise'. Which is an important factor, however I believe that if this was in fact a panel discussing the stigma around the disease, I would only assume the sexuality that clings to it would be an important factor to discuss.

Huge thanks to Hugh and Ellie (Courtesy of Chanelle Manton photography)

Overall it was a fascinating panel, with huge thanks to the Sussex Stop Aids group for organising this, I can only hope through more hard work, raising our voices a little higher, we can, in effect, put a 'stop' to AIDS. Or at least, spread enough awareness on the topic we can hopefully eradicate the stigma around those who have it.

Many thanks!


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