This is us, this is YAA: Our board member Marlon Jost Published on:

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. Today is Marlons turn, who is another YAA-board member.

Marlon, how did you start getting committed to Youth Against AIDS?

I was the typical 13-year-old class representative and grateful for any opportunity, to do anything that was not prescribed to me by a teacher. Therefore, I was immediately ready, when an older classmate distributed red ribbons for a donation of one euro at our annual “November Concert”. I just stood behind the table with her and convinced parents and teachers to donate one euro for a good cause.

What was and is your motivation to spend so much time for YAA?

At the time of the ribbon action, I knew very little about HIV and AIDS. Only the few keywords that one of us had written out from Wikipedia, so we knew at the booth, what the money is actually necessary for. But I realized very quickly that there is a very wide field of topics and important information that we simply did not have. Even today, after 10 years of commitment, I am always surprised by so much ignorance in actually well-developed countries. The motivation for me is that we are the ones who can start with our work right here and make a difference in the real world. At some point this started with friends sending photos of our posters or hearing of the feedback we got from the school classes. That’s when I actually realized that we don’t play a simulation game here, but reach people everywhere.

What does your area of ​​responsibility include? What are you responsible for?

Like many others who have been with YAA for a while, I have had different responsibilities and are still trying to help where our organization has made experiences. I am currently responsible for the area Operations, which deals with the operative. At the moment, I am particularly interested in our AIDS 2018 Youth Headquarters at the AIDS Conference in Amsterdam. This changes abruptly after the conference and is also great in all areas of Youth Against AIDS. Depending on which season we have, depending on which projects are currently underway: the areas of responsibility are changing and there are always new challenges that we have to face together. So we all keep moving and learning new things every day.

Why is it so important to involve the youth in the fight against AIDS?

We simply have the problem – by the way, worldwide – that especially young people no longer consider HIV / AIDS as relevant for themselves and therefore do not protect themselves. Everybody knows by themselves that as a 16-year-old you do not necessarily have much interest in talking to a teacher or your parents about sex. If only because the teacher talks about “intercourse” or “the act”, while all friends and one only says “fuck.” Talking to peers is much more natural, and if a few people are now endowed with knowledge of it, we can spread this knowledge so much faster and make our generation an enlightened generation.

What were the most poignant moments in your career at YAA?

I’ve been asked that question so many times and I just don’t have an answer for it, because there are so many amazing little and big moments of this kind. Most of the time these are the minutes after the start of a big action or campaign that we sat on until the very last second, when everybody said, “you’re crazy” or “that does not work” but then it actually works out.

Has there also been a memorable moment on your to the US in the context of AIDS2018?

The moment we got into a big Boeing, Daniel and I looked at each other and said how awesome it is that we’re flying to New York for YAA right now, after our first action in Hamburg felt very recently. The last few years have flown past me like a movie, just so I can understand for myself how I got there now.

What are you looking forward to in the coming months?

I’m looking forward to meet about 300 young leaders, whom we bring to Amsterdam. There are many people who think the way we do and I am already looking forward to the movement that will emerge from it.

Your final wish:

That our work eventually becomes superfluous, because everyone has understood how it’s done: with love, respect and condoms.

Do what you want. Do it with love, respect and condoms.