The Queensland AIDS Council is marking World AIDS Day with a Candlelight Vigil which will be held in Brisbane on Friday December1. Join us at 6.45pm at the Queen Street Mall stage (opposite Myer) to celebrate those who have gone before us and reflect on the impact HIV still has across our community.
Michael Scott, Executive Director of Queensland AIDS Council, spoke at the launch of AIDS Awareness Week, telling the assembled audience that “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. 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.”
Mr Scott will also speak at the Vigil on Friday night where he will be joined by Terry Butler MP – Federal Member for Griffith, Brisbane City Councillor Vicki Ward and Kirsten Lovejoy, recent candidate for the Queensland Greens. Personal stories from QuAC’s Gary Williams and others affected by and living with HIV will also be shared. The Brisbane Pride Choir and others will perform as the evening highlight – the candle lighting ceremony – takes place.
Mr Scott has taken the opportunity to remind us on World AIDS Day that “the challenge we also face is that as new notifications of HIV reduce, we run the risk of governments stepping away from their commitments to the virtual elimination of HIV. The deprioritization of HIV by governments and by our own community, is perhaps the greatest challenge we face over the next 5 years. On this day never forget the people who have passed of HIV and AIDS over the years. Please never forget the lessons we have learnt, and please let’s not be complacent about our future. Instead of seeing people as either HIV negative, or HIV positive, lets remind ourselves that we are all human, and that our similarities will always outweigh our differences.”
Come and show your support in person and help all of us celebrate and commemorate together.