Helping people understand that HIV is still a major health issue is the focus of activities in the Northern Rivers region this year to mark the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day.

December 1 is World AIDS Day and the official theme in NSW this year is ‘HIV is still here’.

World AIDS Day is the culmination of AIDS Awareness Week (Nov 23 – Dec 1) and ACON (AIDS Council of NSW) Northern Rivers Branch Manager Dr Tania Lienert says the occasion provides an important opportunity to get people thinking about HIV/AIDS.      
“This year is the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day,” she says.

“Over the last two decades, life-saving medical advances have eased the horror of the early years of the epidemic.

“However, 10,500 people in NSW are living with the condition with at least one new infection being diagnosed in NSW every day.

“In the Northern Rivers region, we have about 400 people living with HIV. And despite the improved treatments, many of these people are doing it tough.

“The reality is that HIV/AIDS remains a major health issue in NSW, as it does throughout Australia and all over the world. 20 years on, helping to prevent new HIV infections remains the most important work that we do here at ACON.

“But it remains the work of everyone else in our community as well because working together, both locally and globally, is the only way we can stop the spread of HIV, reduce its impact and overcome HIV discrimination.”

Dr Lienert says that 20 years ago, condoms and lube were the most effective way to prevent HIV transmission.

“Today, condoms and lube are still the most effective way to prevent HIV transmission,” she said.

“So on World AIDS Day this year, we’re asking people to protect themselves and their partners by using condoms when having sex.

“We’re also asking people to never share injecting equipment, to get tested regularly for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and to be informed and talk about HIV/AIDS.”      

ACON’s Northern Rivers and NCAHS are supporting the following World AIDS Day events:

  • Red Ribbon Appeal: Sun 23 Nov – Mon 1 Dec, selected locations + online. Red Ribbon merchandise will be available at ACON’s office at 27 Uralba St, Lismore throughout AIDS Awareness Week. On Monday 1 Dec, volunteers will be selling Red Ribbon merchandise in the Lismore, Ballina, Yamba, Coffs Harbour and Nimbin CBDs. Donations can also be made online at www.redribbonday.org.au.
  • World AIDS Day Info Session: Thur 27 Nov, Byron Youth Service, 3pm. In-service for the community – come along and find out more about WAD and the theme for this year.
  • Treatments By The Sea: Sat 29 Nov, Byron Bay, 11am – 4pm. Free workshop for people living with HIV/AIDS. Workshop will explore HIV transmission and infectivity.
  • Candlelight Vigil: Mon 1 Dec, Riverside Park, Lismore, 8pm. A memorial gathering to commemorate people from the Northern Rivers region who have died from an AIDS-related illness.
  • School Play: Mon 1 Dec, Evans River Community School, 2pm & 7pm. A play which relates the history of HIV/AIDS over the past 20 years and more particularly the alienation and discrimination surrounding this.
  • Wear Red for World AIDS Day: Tues 2 Dec, Dorrigo High School. High School Event to raise awareness of World AIDS Day and people living with HIV/AIDS.