Our Mission Work

This statement was developed by the YouthCO Board of Directors in the spring of 2019, and shared with staff on May 2, 2019.

YouthCO’s mission is reducing the impact of HIV and Hep C stigma on youth in British Columbia. In defining HIV and Hep C stigma, we recognize that HIV and Hep C stigma informs and is shaped by simultaneous forms of stigma and oppression, including racism, transphobia, homophobia, and colonization, classism, and ableism.

As an organization working in HIV and Hep C, we centre youth living with HIV and/or Hep C in our organization. In addition to a program dedicated specifically to the experiences of youth living with HIV and/or Hep C, we ensure our other program areas are also set up to support youth living with either or both of these viruses.

Our mission work uses peer education and peer support to respond to young people’s needs around HIV and Hep C stigma, and all our mission work takes place within the contexts of our organizational values and approaches.

The main components of our mission work are:

1. Providing youth-led peer education and support on topics directly related to HIV and Hep C! This may include referrals to health services, workshops, online and print resources, consultations regarding what care options may be best for them.

a. Creating safer, accessible, and fun spaces for youth to learn how to navigate HIV and Hep C, specifically around sex and drug use.

b. Fostering youth leadership within HIV and Hep C movements (e.g. supporting youth in coming to Core Training or Positive Leadership Development Institute).

2. Engaging youth most impacted by HIV and Hep C (including youth living with HIV and Hep C) as leaders within and beyond our organization and movement.

3. Advocating for youth to have access to culturally responsive HIV and/or HCV information, prevention, testing, and care. This may include working directly with youth (e.g. during an event or workshop), organizations that provide care, and policy makers that determine the context of care.

4. Challenging language, policy, and actions from youth, service providers, and policy makers that stigmatize youth living with HIV and/or Hep C and youth who are coming into contact with HIV and/or Hep C.

YouthCO's office is located on the unceded traditional territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh and Tsleil-Waututh people. Our programs take place on unceded, ancestral, and traditional territories of many Indigenous nations across what is now called BC.

YouthCO believes that all youth have the right to accessible and affirming information about our health. We also know each of us has a unique relationship to our bodies, sex, sexuality, substance use, and harm reduction. For many of us, the words other people use for our bodies and their functions are not the words we use for ourselves. Throughout our website, YouthCO uses words for bodies and sex that we know will not reflect the full diversity of our communities. We have tried to, where possible, be as expansive with our language as we know how to while being as specific as possible. As youth leading the HIV movement, we too are learning about the best words for our experiences and do not do this perfectly. We invite any feedback about the language used on our website to help us move forward in the best ways for all youth in our communities!