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Image – Steven Richmond from Plano (TX) participates in a brainstorming session with other YAIers.
Richardson, Texas – Last week marked the tenth year of the annual Youth Action Institute (YAI), a week-long “bootcamp” sponsored by the Campaign to End AIDS coalition. The primary goal of this annual event is to train and turn out a new generation of young AIDS activists and leaders.
YAI 2014 was hosted in Dallas, Texas, and the adult-supervised but youth-run convening opened with positive training sessions designed to educate attendees and help them become the AIDS policy-makers and protest leaders of today and tomorrow. A short but intense week later, the capstone was an encouraging end product created by the participants of this YAI: an online, social media action called eliminiAIDS, created to promote awareness of the larger national advocacy campaign to end AIDS in the U.S and worldwide.
YAI 2014 was attended by 37 participants ranging in age from 18 to 31, 32 of them hailing from 11 states across the country as well as another 5 attendees from Trinidad and Tobago. The group also represented a diverse mix across a number of demographics—HIV+, LGBT, race, and ethnicity.
Click here to view photos from YAI 2014.
The different training sessions focused on topics such as different levels of advocacy, how to advocate for policy change, and how to tap into media and social media resources to spread a message or raise awareness for a campaign. Throughout the week, the youths also met with the local Dallas organizations the Afiya Center, Youth First, U-BE, and Black Trans Men Inc.
After meetings with local organizations over the first two days of YAI, participants engaged in a community debate as to how to move forward, presenting the following focus issues:
• provide feedback from youth on the Global Millennium Development Goals
• integrate youth into the national advocacy campaign to end AIDS in the U.S. by 2025 and globally by 2030
• increase access to employment by LGBT youth in Dallas
• raise awareness about employment discrimination of the transgender community in Dallas.
Via discussions with local organizations and as well as dialogues among themselves, the YAI group came to the conclusion that they would plan their direct action at the end of the week in order to raise awareness about the discrimination faced by the transgender community of Dallas.
YAI 2014 Results: The eliminAIDS Campaign
After much debate, the group decided to focus on the national advocacy campaign to end the epidemic by 2025 in the United States and by 2030 globally. The strategy developed was the use of an online, integrated social media action in order to gain awareness for the campaign created by the group: eliminAIDS.
eliminAIDS’ mission is to improve health care through the even distribution of the Affordable Care Act in all states, ending stigma, and to raise awareness on a national scale through the “elimin[AIDS] 2025” campaign to create an AIDS-free environment by 2025.
The participants, along with the help of all the facilitators throughout the week, were able to create a cohesive message of eliminAIDS along with supporting video, photos, and other materials on a newly designed and launched website. The group also hosted a live Twitter conversation on Friday, June 20, to raise awareness for eliminAIDS. This conversation ended with dozens of outside participants, as well as hundreds “Likes” on the newly created eliminAIDS Facebook page. (Just in the week since the launch of that Facebook page, the site’s “Likes” now exceeds 700.)
eliminAIDS Four-Point Strategy for Ending AIDS
The eliminAIDS campaign features a four-pronged approach to ending the epidemic:
• increasing HIV viral suppression to 80%
• decreasing HIV incidence to < 0.5%
• ending the disparities in HIV incidence and prevalence
• ending HIV stigma
eliminAIDS aims to gain traction alongside other organizations in the campaign to end the national HIV & AIDS epidemic by 2025. See the launch video below for more details.
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