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World AIDS Day 2017

World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year. It raises awareness across the world and in the community about the issues surrounding HIV and AIDS. It is a day for people to show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen some incredible advancements in the fight against HIV and even steps towards potentially finding a cure. All this is news that is worth getting truly excited about, especially given current estimates see approximately 32 million people globally living with HIV.

The fight against HIV and AIDS is not over yet.

We have a generation of adults now who have never known a world without the presence of HIV and AIDS. Coupled with the fact that HIV is no longer a death sentence, it seems to be that there has become an increase in the amount of activity that could potentially transmit the virus and an apathy towards the outcome. We need to realise that the fight against HIV and AIDS is not over yet and that we do have the potential, if we all play our part, to eradicate this disease in our lifetimes.

There were 1081 new HIV diagnoses in Australia in 2014 with the rate remaining stable over recent years.

Like other conditions, HIV can be prevented. By being informed about what HIV is and how it can be transmitted, we can take measures to look after ourselves and others.

The facts about HIV and AIDS

There are many great websites that will give you the most recent and up to date research on HIV. We recommend the World AIDS Day website which offers the facts.

Playing my part in the fight against HIV

It’s easy to play your part in the fight against HIV.

Have a safe sex strategy in place that works for you that incorporates safer sex, treatment as prevention, PrEP and regular testing.

HIV and Mental Health

For many, many years, the level of stigma that people living with HIV have had to face has caused untold stress, anxiety, depression, and shame. While it may be all too easy to view this as a virus that attacks the body, the potential for OUTthink, we spoke with Positive Living Centre Speaker Daniel Cordner, who shared his journey from diagnosis through to now and the struggle it took for him to reach a point of acceptance and forgiveness for himself.

In that episode, we agreed that, due to the nature of transmission, there tends to be so much more shame associated with an HIV diagnosis when really we are simply humans doing what we do.

For people who have been diagnosed with HIV positive, there is the fear of disconnection from their family and friends, a fear of rejection, a fear of finding themselves alone. In another podcast with Dean Beck, we spoke about the facilities available to help people with HIV to find the support they need in working through this diagnosis and how, in many ways, it is currently lacking. With no immediate answers, it is up to all of us to show compassion, empathy, and understanding to those who choose to confide in us about their status.

Positive Change 2017

Every year, I run a campaign called Positive Change where I offer people the opportunity to make the change they want while giving people living with HIV the change they need.

I created this campaign as I recognized this was an area of the LGBTQIA community that needed ongoing support.

Over the past two years, I’ve had one year that has been successful and one year that was far from. It has resulted in some tweaks to this year’s campaign but in the hope that it can generate some much-needed cash for the Victorian AIDS Council to continue doing the brilliant work that they do in raising awareness around HIV and supporting those currently living with HIV.

For more information, you can read the page on POSITIVE CHANGE.

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