A candlelight vigil will be held in Brisbane on Friday evening to mark World AIDS Day tomorrow.
December 1 is globally recognised as World AIDS Day, and it’s commemorated across the country to remind everyone that HIV is still a health issue, educate everyone on HIV prevention strategies, and to ensure that people living with HIV can participate in life without stigma and discrimination.
The Queensland AIDS Council (QuAC) have organised the candlelight vigil, to be held from 6.45pm on Friday evening at the Queen Street Mall Stage, outside Myer.
“The event is an opportunity to remember all those we have loved and lost to AIDS and related illnesses since the beginning of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and a number of speakers will share their personal experiences,” QuAC executive director Michael Scott said.
He said over 6000 people are currently living with HIV in Queensland.
“Each year 150 to 200 Queenslanders become HIV positive, and they are only the numbers we know about,” he said.
“AIDS Awareness Week is one of celebration – recognising the great work that’s been done across Australia to prevent HIV.
“It’s a week 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.”
He noted there have been many gains, including the 3000 places made available in the trial of prevention medication PrEP for Queenslanders at high risk of HIV transmission.
But “unless we ensure those gains are across the community, we will continue to struggle to end HIV transmission,” he said.
On World AIDS Day each year, volunteers hit the streets of Brisbane with thousands of red ribbons to help raise funds and awareness of HIV in Queensland.
Approximately 10,000 red ribbons will be distributed throughout south-east Queensland alone, according to organisers.
Several buildings around Brisbane, including the Story Bridge, Victoria Bridge and City Hall will be lit in red that week to recognise World AIDS Day.
For more information about World AIDS Day events in Queensland, visit the website here.