🌈Shifting Power to Save Lives: The Youth Stop AIDS Speaker Tour 2024 📢

Youth Stop AIDS (YSA) is a youth-led movement campaigning for a world without AIDS. The 2024 Speaker Tour saw young people living with HIV sharing their stories, spreading awareness of stigma and discrimination which still exists today. Across 5 cities, our speakers and campaigners met with the public as well as with parliamentarians and FCDO staff, to ensure the domestic and global HIV response remains on the political agenda.

"Having speakers from 3 different continents with different backgrounds highlighted the similarities and unique differences in the experiences and challenges faced by people living with HIV worldwide; I learnt so much and am inspired to advocate for the rights of people living with or at risk of HIV!"

Cordelia, Students for Global Health Committee member

Meet the team! Our brilliant speakers, campaign leaders and staff

A breakfast briefing at the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office was a really impactful part of the tour. Attendees came from various FCDO teams including: HIV, health, Global Fund, Diseases of Poverty, SRHR, and LGBT+ Rights. Our panel was chaired by the Director-General for Humanitarian and Development, Melinda Bohannon.

Approximately 25 FCDO staff attended in-person and online. The Senior Responsible Officer for the Robert Carr Fund (who writes up the business case) attended the event and fed back that the event was "not only very informative but deeply moving" and a rare experience to re-connect with people in the real world which proved incredibly valuable.

“The Youth Stop AIDS Speaker Tour session at FCDO was really inspiring. Hearing directly from young people living with HIV really brought home the importance of supporting youth leadership in the HIV response. From tackling stigma and discrimination, to supporting key and vulnerable populations to access services, young people are driving real change.”

FCDO attendee

"Involvement in the YSA Speaker tour was a unique and invaluable experience. Involvement in HIV advocacy and campaigning can be intimidating for young people and it can be challenging to know the best way to take action. This tour was a vehicle for meaningful discussion and equipped other young people with the tools to begin challenging HIV injustice and stigma-breaking"

YSA Campaign Leader

Our two largest events were our finale event in London and our event as part of the Students for Global Health conference in Newcastle, with attendance from students studying a range of degrees including: medicine, politics, and international development came together over 2 days to learn about global health priorities. The inclusion of the YSA Speaker Tour meant HIV was a key focus of the conference.

Youth Stop AIDS in Newcastle at the Students for Global Health conference

"Joining the tour was an uplifting experience, seeing so many eloquent and well prepared passionate young people addressing those important topics was refreshing and empowering."

YSA Campaign Leader

We were joined in Parliament by Lord Cashman, Alison Thewliss MP and David Mundell MP (chair of the APPG on HIV and AIDS). Dianne Stewart, Deputy Director of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria also attended.

During the roundtable, Lord Cashman fed back how moved and inspired he was - sharing that, in hearing Joyce and Aoife's stories on HIV sigma, he had been transported back to the height of the pandemic.

The speakers:

Aoife (she/her) is a 28-year old nurse who recently publicly shared her positive HIV status. In a short few months, Aoife has gone from strength to strength - appearing on all forms of media and is now a leading voice for women living with HIV in Ireland. Aoife will share her experience of living with HIV and her insight of the stigma existing in healthcare settings.

Joyce (she/her) is a 27-year-old woman from Kenya, living openly with HIV. She was diagnosed with HIV in her final year of secondary education and has encountered various forms of stigma and discrimination since then. Joyce is at the forefront of the fight against HIV stigma. She has since taken her advocacy to the highest levels representing young people in influential spaces such as the Communities' delegation to the board of the Global Fund and the Global Fund Youth Council. Joyce currently leads the implementation of the READY programme at Y+ Global as Senior Programmes Officer.

Max (they/them) is a 31-year old Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Oxford Brookes University who has published research on the decriminalisation and destigmatisation of HIV in the context of U=U. Max has appeared on BBC, Sky News, and local radio stations (including BBC Radio Oxford with Youth Stop AIDS in 2023), alongside writing for the Guardian and Metro about their experience of living with HIV. Max will be sharing their story via video.

Ellie Harrison (she/her) 27, was diagnosed with HIV at the age of 21 whilst in her final year of university. Ellie's initial reaction was one of self-stigma, stemming largely from her lack of education about the virus. Ellie now refers to her diagnosis as the best thing that has happened to her. Transforming this stigma into activism, she has worked a lot in the public eye to break down misconceptions surrounding HIV and promote regular sexual health testing.

Roberto, 37 (he/him) was diagnosed with HIV in 2014. Roberto moved from from Mexico City to London in 2016 and, two years later, started a personal project called Número de Serie, a sexual and mental health awareness platform with a focus on reducing stigma around HIV in the Latin American community in the UK.

With thanks to HCAI for sponsoring the tour