Young people from all over the world are committed to Youth Against AIDS (YAA). But who is working for our organisation, how does our work look like and why do we actually do what we’re doing? To get you a glimpse behind the scenes, we are going to introduce you to the faces and stories behind YAA in the next few weeks. Let’s start with our CEO Daniel Nagel, who invites you to his YAA-world in an interview.
Daniel, you are our CEO and therefore regularly travelling around the world for us. How did everything start with YAA?
It all started in a high school in Hamburg in 2009. It was World AIDS Day, but no one was actually talking about HIV and AIDS. Therefore, some students organized a loop sale in collaboration with other schools. Nearly 20,000 euros were collected, that should then be donated to a large AIDS organization in Hamburg. But they said: You worked for it, so you should decide what happens with the money. That was the birth of YAA – we got the money back.
What was and is your motivation to spend so much time for YAA?
HIV and AIDS have increasingly disappeared from the media and public space in recent years. The topic is simply no longer perceived as relevant. This also has a lot to do with prejudices and stereotypes. “Only gay people get AIDS” or “AIDS only exists in Africa”, for example. But that’s not correct. HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis, hepatitis or gonorrhea continue to spread throughout the world. Today, still more than 37 million people worldwide are infected with HIV. We are the generation that can end AIDS. To do that, we have to do a great deal of work and regain awareness that this infection is preventable. We are convinced that, for example, an open exchange on sexuality can do a lot to help young people to protect themselves. That’s why I’m talking to our partners, organizations, politicians and young people who support our project. With our new campaign as a partner of the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam, we will live up to our mission and ensure that the voice of the youth will be heard. Together we can reach our goal and end AIDS.
Why is it up to the youth to end AIDS?
In our generation, the disease has lost relevance, but HIV/AIDS is still one of the leading causes of death among young people worldwide. Our organization was born out of the vacuum that there was no youthful address for this topic. Despite the great progress in treatment, we must not diminish our prevention efforts with young people – otherwise our goal threatens to become a long way off. For that we have to stand up as a generation, because nobody else does.
What is your area of responsibility? What are you responsible for?
As CEO and Chairman of the Board I try to develop the club every day. That includes the management of the board work, the representation of the association to the outside, the acquisition and care of our largest partners, but also the strategic development and realization of our multi-award winning campaigns. Within a few years, we have grown from a small group of students in Hamburg into an agile and international NGO. This is a great team effort to which I contribute my part.
What were the most impressive moments on your trips in the course of AIDS2018 so far?
I am really impressed by the great support for our campaign. We realize that we make a valuable contribution and that our organization enjoys global relevance. Especially motivating is the support of young people around the world. We have received a lot of feedback that they not only want to accompany us to Amsterdam in summer, but also would like to implement concrete projects together with us in the future.
What are you looking forward to in the coming months?
We are heading to Brazil next week to roll out our local campaign to mobilize more volunteers for the World AIDS Conference. It’s going to be a big challenge, but with the good preparation of the team and the support of our local UNAIDS-contacts, we can make it. There are many more adventures waiting for us after our trip to Brazil. We are going to bring the campaign to China, South Africa and many European countries as well.
Your final wish?
I wish that we achieve our goals for this year. After all, a big step has already been taken to put youth back on the agenda of global HIV/AIDS work.
Do what you want. Do it with love, respect and condoms.
This post was written by Jugend gegen AIDS Blog