This Saturday 1 December marks the 30th Anniversary of the first ever global health awareness day, World AIDS Day. It is a day to remember those lost to the illness and to reflect on the progress that has been 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). 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.

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. Stigma doesn’t just affect PLHIV, it can also be directed at and impact upon partners, friends, families and the broader community,” he said.

There were 185 new diagnoses of HIV in Queensland in 2017, a 10 per cent decrease on the previous four-year average. Simon is encouraging the people of Queensland to join in events to celebrate the lives of those lost prematurely to HIV and help raise awareness of the continuing battle against the spread of 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,” said Simon.

This year’s theme, Everybody Counts will be the focus of Queensland WORLD AIDS Day 2018. Head over to The West End Magazine calendar to see the World AIDS Day events on offer, such as the Candlelight Vigil and the Red Party.

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