6 small ways you can fight HIV (and change the world)
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Q: What's the link between Wu Tang Clan, volunteer programmes in Zimbabwe, and young people across the UK? A: They’re all changing the world... Or at least, that’s the plan. Restless Development believes there are many routes to changing the world for the better, and they do this by taking direct action overseas and at home. They tackle this most mammoth of tasks by: a), working on the ground through International Citizen Service (ICS) to implement sexual health programmes, and b), campaigns in the UK that aim to change policies that negatively affect the world’s developing countries. ICS gets work done where it’s most needed through volunteering programmes in affected countries. For example, in March, Restless Development Zimbabwe hosted an awareness campaign in Ushe, a suburb of Harare, that was attended by more than 500 people. Partnering with local NGOs, the volunteers provided HIV testing for 250 people. It’s change on a global scale, and it can have benefits for volunteers’ own self-awareness too. Just ask Usaama, a UK volunteer in South Africa and Team Leader in Uganda. “Before I volunteered overseas, I used to think issues like HIV and AIDS, youth unemployment and political engagement were all too big for one person to solve, especially by someone like me,” he says. “But through seeing first-hand the impact our work had on the local community, I realised we can collectively have an impact that creates a ripple effect.” Back in the UK, ICS volunteers use the skills they’ve learnt overseas and the passions they’ve ignited to insight change on an equally as large scale. One current campaign supported by Restless Development is the Youth Stop AIDS Missing Medicines campaign, which is taking on the pharmaceutical giants at the heart of what they believe to be a broken system. The crux of the campaign is to expose the over-inflation of drug prices, which means companies fail to see a benefit and don’t invest in them – causing unspeakable harm to countries, communities and families affected by the condition. Taking on the pharma industry and campaigning for a world without AIDS might seem like a big task, especially for a bunch of young people – but the campaigners’ demands are clear: the introduction of incentives that will lead to the prioritisation of health research according to need rather than profit. A fund for research into development of medicines. Nations to pay for the fund by committing 0.01% of their GDP towards it. Their efforts are paying off: currently Missing Medicines have lobbied 86% of their targeted MPs, and received 44% of the signatures they’re seeking. After all, as AIDs disproportionately affects young people, it stands to reason that young people are needed to fight it. If changing the world is something that you might be interested in (hint: it should be), here are six ways you can get involved. 1. Take direct action In March, the Missing Medicines team took to the streets of London wearing masks of possibly the year’s most hated man, self-titled “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli. The idea was to highlight the way Shkreki – who at the end of last year hiked the price of HIV drugs from $13.50 to $750 a pill – had profited from a system that was intrinsically broken.
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