World AIDS Day 2018

November 11, 2018

Some 30 years ago I was just beginning my journey within the gay subculture. I had met a few people who became firm friends. That year too, was the first World AIDS Day on 1 December, 1988, at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis, and is one of eight global public health campaigns of the World Health Organisation.

Never could I have imagined the impact of AIDS on my life. Yes, I knew people were dying but that was in other countries, not Australia and certainly not in a small rural NSW town.

A few months after that first World AIDS day, one of my closet friends told me he had HIV. A short year and many hospitalisations later, I was a pall bearer at his funeral.

For the past 29 years, individuals from across the globe have come together on the first day of December each year to take stock of the progress that has been made in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment and renew the global community’s commitment to working towards a future free of the devastating virus.

I am thankful of the progress made, as another friend, who is not only a long time survivor but also testament to the latest antiretroviral therapy (ART) that has given him and many others hope of a normal life expectancy.

Yet, over the 30 years since the emergence of the virus, and 29 years since the first World’s AIDS Day, much more needs to done to bring these advances to developing countries and to reach groups at high risk of HIV transmission. One of the biggest barriers to achieving this is the stigma that is still rife in many nations.

Saturday, 1 December, marks the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day, with the theme, “Know Your Status”. More than 120 countries around the world hold events to raise awareness of preventative measures, testing and treatments and also to remember those who have lost their lives to, and support those who are living with, the HIV/AIDS virus.

You can help raise awareness by attending or hosting local events or vigils, using social media to post information regarding testing and preventative measures or by volunteering at local organisations for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Ronald Bassi Federation member, LGBTIQ SIG