Today saw the launch of AIDS Awareness Week in the Queen Street Mall, Brisbane. Gary Williams, our World AIDS Day Co-ordinator, shared his personal journey with HIV which resonated deeply with the audience. He also introduced the two guest speakers, Michael Scott, Executive Director of QuAC and Simon O’Connor, Executive Officer of Queensland Positive People.
“While HIV has changed, HIV is still with us in the present. We have over 6000 people living with HIV in Queensland. Each year 150 to 200 Queenslanders become HIV positive, and they are only the numbers we know about,” said Mr. Scott, who then went on to discuss the ongoing relevance of AIDS Awareness Week. He noted there have been many gains, including the 3000 places made available on the PrEP trial.
“The week is one of celebration – recognising the great work that’s been done across Australia to prevent HIV. The week is one of commemoration and reflection – remembering loved ones who have died, and remembering the terrible impact HIV has had across our community. The week is one of recognition – recognising the role the whole community plays to promote HIV awareness and to challenge stigma and discrimination. But ultimately it’s a week to remember that HIV is still with us. HIV is still an issue within our community, and we face many challenges and opportunities ahead.”
Mr Scott concluded his remarks stressing that “unless we ensure those gains are across the community, we will continue to struggle to end HIV transmission.”