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.