Youth Stop AIDS Speaker Tour 2018!

A HUGE Happy New Year!

2018 is a big year for Youth Stop AIDS, we plan to demand extra funding from DFID for AIDS medication and education in February, as well as bombard the Amsterdam Government meeting with all things powerful and youth-led to make sure our MPs are saying the right things in aspect to funding for HIV/AIDS.

 With this in mind and more, the year kicked off to a great start, as a society in Brighton we achieved our developing status award, which was a challenge considering it was a brand new society in a very naive area (believe it or not). We also signed on new members at the Brighton SU Refresher's Fair (go us!).

Kennedy, 25 from Kenya.
In February it started with the Speaker Tour Event! A fantastic opportunity where selected speakers travel all over the country in a month speaking at various events about their own personal stories. On the 7th February, it landed in Brighton. A great chance for the society to get it's first official event, and we set up a lovely theatre hall for them to speak in, with a great turnout (and great food) it was set to be a warming evening of watching some of the most inspirational young people suffering from HIV/AIDS.

We had the pleasure of hearing Channan, aged 18 from the UK, Kennedy, aged 25 from Kenya and Aled, 29 from the UK. Each inspirational young speaker had a unique perspective on living life with HIV, from a Kenyan activist who was kicked out his home and forced into sex work, to an 18-year-old female vlogger overcoming health challenges & stigma to be a leading activist.

AIDS is still one of the biggest killers of young people globally, marginalised groups like sex workers are 10 times more at risk of HIV compared to the general population. But these figures do not tell the full story and having these incredible stories shared really motivates you to take action, and learn that AIDS is no longer a death sentence, and new HIV infections are easily preventable. With serious political willpower and funding, we can end AIDS by 2030.

Kennedy opened up the presentation with a moving story of his life in Kenya. As a homosexual man living in the Global South, he was shamed for his sexuality, and could never understand it properly, forced out of his home without a full education, Kennedy was forced into sex work at the capital (Nairobi). After numerous beatings, gang rape and violence, Kennedy felt like his only option was to go home. After finding out he was diagnosed with HIV it changed his life forever.

Kennedy is just one of the millions who suffer from an internal battle with their sexuality, by heightening the issue with sex work as the only option, Kennedy was facing a death sentence. Yet this inspirational man failed to give up, he received the medication he needed and knew he had to tell his story and help people. He started up a campaign in his local village, which only grew and became more successful. Now he is touring the UK and proving to all of us everywhere that #itaintover!

Channan, 18, UK
Channan opened her heart to the life she struggled with, from birth Channan was diagnosed with HIV from her mother. After being taken into care due to her parent's struggle with drugs, she found a foster mother and began her life. Unfortunately, HIV wasn't accepted by her brother, who persisted to try to get her taken away from her *now* adopted mother. Channan braved it all, she ignored the people telling her to keep her diagnosis a secret and proceeded to tell people, her brave soul touched everyone in her school, and it didn't end there.

Channan fought for her right to speak, and she became an activist to show others that it is okay to talk about it. She single handily changed opinions of hundreds, taught and inspired her peers, even started her own Youtube channel to inspire more people on what life is really like with HIV.

Aled, 29, UK
Aled was the final speaker, he showed us all that life with HIV does not mean the end. Aled is one of the most bubbly, talkative people you'd ever get the pleasure to meet, and his personality shone throughout his speech. After contracting HIV whilst at university in Brighton, Aled calls it 'the best moment in his life'. He began his inspirational activist work and started to share his story with others in or out of drag. Through doing so, Aled reached out to hundreds of people that would otherwise not know where to go from there. Although Aled still struggles with day-to-day naivety from his fellow peers at bars/clubs, his bravery shines through as he fights for his right. Proving to everybody he meets that life doesn't end with HIV, only a new one.

The speaker tour was one of the most emotional events you can attend, it doesn't sugar coat it, but gives you the hard hitting reality. It proves how important funding is for projects to help others, with enough of us standing up and helping we can officially end AIDS.

For more information please see:

A HUGE thank you to all the amazing speakers for sharing their personal tales, and to the Youth Stop AIDS team for all the great work!



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