Hello from Washington! Currently Lotti, Phindi and I are tapping away on our laptop drinking tea and creating our master plan to mobilise people at the International AIDS Conference in Washington, USA. After Phindi’s 28 hour flight from South Africa, Lotti’s 9 hour flight from London and my 6 hour bus journey through America we are now all rested and ready to go. So it’s my pleasure to introduce the International AIDS conference 2012 youth delegates for Student Stop AIDS and Restless Development. You all already know Lotti, the Student Stop AIDS Coordinator, so who in Phindi? Phindi is from Johannesburg, South Africa. She is a freelance writer for the Elle magazine, editor and HIVisionary who hopes to change the way youth look at HIV one campaign at a time. Rachel, well I’m an activist who has been working in campaigns for a while and particularly with the Student Stop AIDS campaign as part of the London group, as this town has been good enough to have me live there for the last few years. I’m hoping that this conference will give me all I need to know about the up-to-date information about the AIDS response so I can bring back this learning and share with all you guys in the UK groups.
With the long list of things to do mounting, we zone in on the main objective for this week, to mobilise 500 young people to attend the ‘We Can End AIDS Mobilization’. Why would we want to do this? Because as young people we are the future of AIDS, as everyone knows more than 7,400 people are infected with HIV every day and around half of those are under 25 years old. If we can see an end to AIDS then this means that as future adults we can be protected from the virus. If over half of new infected are in those under 25 then this means we should have space to be listened to as it is us that are being infected the most and it’s young people that have the energy and spirit to fight for this space. This is why we need to mobilise young people in Washington and call upon them to join us in creating a voice that people will listen to and that can contribute to the end of AIDS.
But this mobilisation isn’t going to happen out of thin air. It’s about Lotti, Phindi and I working with the Student Global AIDS Campaign, aka Amirah Sequeira. Together we will be attending seminars, flyering, painting banners, running activism meetings and much more to ensure every young person in Washington hears about our work and joins in the march on the 24th July.
What a busy week ahead. You should stay tuned though for updates on our movement and see how our weeks unfold in the build up to the mobilisation. You can follow us on twitter at @studentstopaids or on facebook. Speak soon, Rachel.