Queensland has a huge program of events from one end of the state to the other to mark the 30th anniversary of the first ever global health awareness day, World AIDS Day, this year.
World AIDS Day is held on December 1 each year as a day to remember those we have lost and reflect on the progress we have made towards reaching the goal of zero new HIV diagnoses in Queensland.
This year, the Queensland World AIDS Day Alliance (QWADA) is working towards stopping stigma and discrimination faced by people living with HIV (PLHIV).
QWADA member Simon O’Connor said he hopes that one day, we can break the stigma still associated with HIV.
“HIV stigma manifests itself in many ways, and it mainly comes from fear combined with a lack of understanding, knowledge or empathy,” he said.
“Stigma doesn’t just affect PLHIV, it can also be directed at and impact upon partners, friends, families and the broader community.”
Advances in treatments and HIV prevention methods including PEP, PrEP, U=U and condoms mean that HIV has become a chronic manageable illness, and many PLHIV are able to achieve longer and healthier lives.
Additionally, HIV is far more preventable and not as easily transmitted as it once was and O’Connor recommends that people ought to think before they speak and arm themselves with knowledge.
“It’s important to keep informed about what’s happening and understand how HIV is transmitted, the prevention methods available and the tireless work being done to end HIV,” he said.
There were 185 new diagnoses of HIV in Queensland in 2017, a 10 per cent decrease on the previous four-year average.
O’Connor is encouraging the people of Queensland to join in events to celebrate the lives of those lost prematurely and help raise awareness of the continuing battle against the spread of HIV.
“I encourage everyone this World AIDS Day to show your support: wear a red ribbon, talk to your friends and work colleagues about HIV or make a donation to an AIDS charity,” he said.
“Compassion, knowledge and action are the strongest weapons we have in the fight against HIV.
“The aim of World AIDS Day is to raise consciousness in the community about HIV issues, including understanding the needs of, and support for people living with HIV; the importance of strengthening existing education and prevention initiatives; and the development and implementation of innovative new ones.”
Among the events across the state, a candlelight vigil will will be held on December 1 from 6:45pm on the Queen Street Mall stage, outside Myer to remember all those we’ve loved and lost to AIDS and related illnesses since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The candlelight vigil is free to attend and no bookings are required.
To see the full list of World AIDS Day events, visit the website here. Ahead of World AIDS Day on December 1, QNews Magazine has taken a look at the event’s 30-year history and spoken to community advocates about the continued relevance of the event in our new issue, out now. Read it online here and to find a copy of QNews Magazine near you, click here.