On the 1stof December each year, we pause to reflect on our progress in the fight against HIV. We remember those we lost and commit to supporting those still living with HIV today. It is also a time to reflect on our progress towards the goal of reaching zero HIV transmissions.
World AIDS Day means different things to different people. For some, a time to remember and reflect on the past and a time to commit to reaching zero transmissions. For others, it is also a time to celebrate the strength and diversity of the different communities affected by HIV in Australia.
WAD 2019: Every Journey Counts
The theme of World AIDS Day 2019 is ‘Every Journey Counts’.
Every journey and way to mark World AIDS Day matters.
As it has for a number of years now, the Queensland World AIDS Day Alliance (QWADA) continues to work together to implement a range of activities to mark World AIDS Day across the state.
Among the events across the state, a candlelight vigil will be held on December 1 from 6.45pm at Captain Burke Park, 117 Holman St at Kangaroo Point in Brisbane. This event takes place under the Story Bridge, illuminated in red to mark World AIDS Day. The vigil is a chance to reflect and remember all those lost since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The candlelight vigil is free to attend and does not require booking.
In Cairns, the local World AIDS Day planning committee organises a vigil. The Queensland AIDS Council is a member of the committee.
Brisbane and Queensland events CLICK HERE: Facebook.com/QLDAIDSCouncil
Cairns and North Queensland events CLICK HERE: Facebook.com/QuACNQ/
Events the length and breadth of Queensland
Each and every year volunteers, services, groups, and businesses come together to mark World AIDS Day across Queensland. See a list of events for World AIDS Day 2019 right across Queensland at www.worldaidsday.org.au/events
“World AIDS Day is an amazing example of community, services and governments coming together to not only remember the past, but recommit to a future free of new HIV diagnoses and providing strong supports and services for people living with HIV in Queensland, and across the entire country”, Rebecca Reynolds, QuAC Chief Executive Officer said.
“The communities impacted by HIV are strong, diverse and resilient, but we all have a role to play on World AIDS Day to stand with them – whether that is wearing red on the day or having a red ribbon on your shirt, talking with the people in your life about HIV and the importance of World AIDS Day, or coming along to an event to stand in solidarity and remembrance together”.
It is important to remember on this World AIDS Day that every journey to HIV prevention also matters.
There are now a range of different approaches to gay men and men who have sex with men taking control of their own sexual health and preventing the onward transmission of HIV. This includes condoms, or using PrEP (a prevention strategy where an HIV negative person takes treatment before exposure to HIV). Regular sexual health testing is a crucial element of all prevention strategies.
Rebecca Reynolds said “QuAC’s #ComePrepd campaign answers a lot of the questions people might have around PrEP. By sharing real stories, it enables people to make up their own mind as to whether PrEP is right for them”.
The website can be found at www.comeprepd.info
Another significant development in HIV prevention is for people living with HIV to maintain an undetectable viral load. That makes it virtually impossible to pass on the virus, which is known as Undetectable = Untransmittable (U=U).
In Queensland, 97% of gay men report an undetectable viral load and they make a significant contribution to HIV prevention.
So whether you are remembering the past and those we have lost, considering what steps you can take to reduce HIV stigma and discrimination, or you are thinking about what HIV prevention means to you, the 1st of December is a time for our diverse communities to pause and reflect together.