World AIDS Day is a significant event for the LGBTI community. It’s a time to remember the people who lost their lives to the pandemic as well as a time to celebrate the lives of people living with HIV.
In Brisbane, the Queensland AIDS Council hosts a Candlelight Vigil on December 1. In Cairns, a Vigil is organised by the local World AIDS Day committee of which QuAC is a member.
Each year, hardworking volunteers, community groups and businesses help put on a diverse range of events for World AIDS Day and HIV Awareness Week.
There is a full list of events for World AIDS Day 2018 right across Queensland at www.qldworldaidsday.org.au/events
In Queensland, the early 1990s saw the Queensland AIDS Council stage some very successful candlelight vigils across the state. In 1994, Brisbane joined 230 other cities in 40 nations in the first International Candlelight Vigil.
This vigil was held in Brisbane’s Suncorp Piazza at Southbank Parklands and many Brisbane residents attended to acknowledge the toll of HIV/AIDS.
In 1996, numbers significantly increased with 5000 people marching through Brisbane, with Lord Mayor Jim Soorley officiating. Vigils were also held in regional locations such as Cairns and Townsville.
Then followed several years of well-attended candlelight vigils but sadly the number of attendees dropped away and the final vigil of that era was held in 2007.
In 2014, a committee was formed and a World AIDS Day Candlelight Vigil was held in Brisbane with an attendance of around 200 people. This support encouraged the committee to plan annual vigils into the future.
As a community and as individuals, there is a lot we can do in relation to HIV.
Working in partnership with people living with HIV, we can encourage others to understand how the virus is transmitted. We can support people to access testing and treatment, as we know that getting early treatment results in better health outcomes.
We can raise awareness that HIV positive people have the right to participate in a community free from stigma and discrimination.
The red ribbon has become the symbol for World AIDS Day. People wear the ribbon to remember those who have died and to show their concern and support for people living with HIV along with their commitment to preventing the transmission of HIV.
Across Queensland red ribbons are worn by many showing their support for the event. Buildings and public places are also lit up in red to mark the event.