Owen Ryan: “If not you, who?” Published on:

Owen Ryan was the Executive Director of the International AIDS Society (IAS) – one of the worlds largest membership associations for people who are working on the front line of HIV. At the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam we had the opportunity to talk to him and discuss the role of the youth when it comes to fighting HIV and AIDS.

Owen, “Executive Director” sounds pretty fancy. What were your responsibilities?

My job was it, to make sure that global policy and scientific evidence are suiting the needs of people who are working on the front line of HIV. A big part of that was making sure that scientific evidence is relevant for nurses and doctors around the world. Another part was bringing people together and taking information from the International AIDS Conference and getting it out into the world.

What were your biggest findings during the conference?

I’d say one of the big ones is the need for greater attention to Eastern Europe and Central Asia. I think a lot of folks assume that outside Africa the epidemic is decreasing or small. But in places like Russia, new infections are exploding. I saw a statistic that said there are a hundred thousand new infections in Russia, which is just unbelievable. That’s an epidemic out of control.

Another big point is the need of young leaders. But I saw a lot of them in the conferences and in your Head-Quarter. And those are not just people talking for their own perspective, but young people telling other leaders what they need to be doing. And that’s great.

What will be the next steps after the conference? What should happen?

One of the big things that need to happen is that we find practical ways for global institutions to bring diseases-areas and issuaries together. Some are already doing it to their credit. But we need more of them. What I’m also hopeful about, is that we don’t forget about Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

What do you think should our role – the role of the youth – be in these next steps?

People aren’t just going to open a door for you and give you space. So you’ll need youth-networks like YAA to start demanding it and demanding in really practical ways. I think you have tremendous force in your voice so whether you want a student-union in a university that you’re studying in or youth-representation in global HIV-programs, you’ll have to demand it and you’ll have to work together to do it. Because just asking for it and wanting it won’t change a thing.

Is there anything that you would love to say to all the youth in the world?

I’m gonna quote other greats because there’s not a reason for me to come up with something: If not you, who? And if not now, when?  The world is full of things that are making us mad and angry every day, so if you’re not doing anything about it, who will? Just start doing something!

#Listenup 👂🏻Our next live session in the #Broadcaststudio is with the executive director of the International AIDS Society – Owen Ryan 🤩With his immense devotion to #endAIDS he has countless leads on how we can continue the 🤜💥 #fightagainstAIDS 💥🤛We can’t be thankful enough for his support and how he always kept us going. We wouldn’t be here without him today 🙏You definitively don’t want to miss this! 👇#Dowhatyouwant. Do it with #love, #respect and #condoms. #AIDS2018

Gepostet von Youth against AIDS am Dienstag, 24. Juli 2018

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