As we have expressed in recent weeks, Youth Stop AIDS is outraged and deeply saddened by the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and the countless other lives which have been taken due to police brutality in the US and around the world. 

We stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and with all of the protestors fighting for justice. We stand against all forms of institutionalised racism, oppression and injustice. We know that when young people come together we can create real change, as we have seen in recent weeks with young people leading many of the Black Lives Matter protests around the world. 

We endorse this statement by our host organisation Restless Development and encourage you to read it and to take note of the numerous and varied ways you can support the Black Lives Matter movement and take action for change. 

Alongside police brutality, we know that institutionalised racism and white privilege runs through all other elements of society, including healthcare and in health outcomes related to HIV.  

As HIV physician and researcher Dr Rageshri Dhairyawan tells us:  “In comparison to White British people in the UK…74% of heterosexual people receiving HIV care in the UK in 2018 were from minority ethnic communities and the highest rate of late diagnosis (the most important predictor of HIV-related illness and death) was in heterosexual Black men.”  You can read her full blog in the British Medical Journal here.

This is a prevalent issue in the UK, in the US and in countless other countries around the world embedded in a history of colonialism and white supremacy. This is something which we know we must do more to stand against. 

So, what are we doing as a network?

Alongside publicly condemning racially fuelled police brutality, we also need to look inward as a campaigning network. We acknowledge that we are not representative of the diversity of the UK nor the countries around the world which our HIV campaigning work focuses on. We know that we have work to do. 

As a starting point, we will soon be launching an Inclusivity and Diversity survey among our UK campaigning network to find out what our current demographics are. 

Following this we will be looking at how we can improve the diversity of our network and make Youth Stop AIDS an accessible and welcoming space for all regardless of race, HIV status, gender, sexuality, ethnicity or any other characteristic.

We commit to continuing to build partnerships and work with organisations such as NAZ who delivered a workshop on HIV and the BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) Community at the Youth Stop AIDS Big Weekend in 2019. We commit to continuing to invite people such as Dr Rageshri Dhairyawan (quoted above) to our events to speak on health inequalities, as we have done for Speaker Tour Lockdown Edition this June 2020. And we commit to developing further training and guidance for our campaigners. 

We want to continue to learn and improve and we welcome your thoughts and input on how we can do better and encourage you to reach out to us with any feedback or ideas. Restless Development and Youth Stop AIDS are committed to using our platforms to elevate the voices and work of youth activists. You can write a blog on We Are Restless or get in touch if you would like to write something specifically for Youth Stop AIDS.