YouthCO’s mission is to reduce the impact of HIV and Hep C stigma on youth in British Columbia. We enter this work with a deep knowing that HIV and Hep C stigma in BC is shaped by many overlapping systems of oppression made possible through the ongoing colonial occupation of these lands.
As an organization working in HIV and Hep C and on the territories of sovereign Indigenous nations, we centre the unique needs of youth living with HIV and Hep C, and the work of decolonization in all that we do. In addition to programs dedicated specifically to the experiences of youth living with HIV and/or Hep C and to the experiences of Indigenous youth, we ensure our other program areas are also set up to support Indigenous youth, and youth living with either or both of these viruses. We also know that because of the particular ways that colonization has erased queer and trans experiences from our collective understanding of health that HIV and Hep C continues to disproportionately affect queer and trans youth. In addition to a program dedicated specifically to the experiences of queer and trans youth, we ensure our other program areas are equally queer and trans-affirming.
Through our mission we use 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
2. Engaging youth most impacted by HIV and Hep C (particularly 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 systems, knowledge, beliefs, 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.