After the overwhelming community support seen at last year’s World AIDS Day candlelight vigil in New Farm Park – the first seen in Brisbane in seven years – the Queensland AIDS Council will again be holding another vigil again this year to remember friends and family members lost to HIV/AIDS on 1 December.
The non-religious event will this year be held in Reddacliff Place in Brisbane’s CBD, a move that organiser Gary Williams says is a nod to the many vigils held in King George Square at the height of the epidemic, while also acknowledging that HIV touches all communities, not just our own.
“For many years now HIV has also affected the heterosexual community and is no longer a Gay man’s illness,” Mr Williams told QNews. “We need to embrace the whole of community and draw them into the nucleolus not segregate them and pretend they are not out there.”
Several speakers will share their personal experiences with HIV/AIDS with an Auslan interpreter present. Candles will be supplied for everyone wishing to partake in the vigil, while those in attendance will also have the opportunity to write a message for lost loved ones.
Williams added that while HIV is different now, we as a community must never forget the devastating effects that HIV/AIDS had on our community, and the fact that HIV is still with us.
“It is true that HIV is not the illness that it used to be and people can live a normal life, maintain jobs and experience a lot less side effects from medication,” Williams said. “But we must never forget those times when life was very unkind, people were extremely ill and a massive number of people lost their lives from this mystery illness.
“World AIDS Day is not only part of the history of our community but it was a time of great devastation, tragedy and a period in the lives of older LGBTI community that will never be forgotten. We don’t forget those who lost their lives during the world wars so we definitely should not forget those people that lost their lives to AIDS. For me personally World AIDS Day is the Anzac Day equivalent for the LGBTI community”.
The 2015 World AIDS Day Candlelight Vigil will be held 7:00pm – 9:00pm at Redacliff Place, 6 Queen St, Brisbane. For more information, please visit www.worldaidsdayqld.org