Local organisations mark World AIDS Day in Yagan Square

December 1st is World AIDS Day, an opportunity to learn more about HIV/AIDS, stand against stigma and remember those we’ve lost.

The WA AIDS Council (WAAC), Positive Organisation of Western Australia (POWA) and other community groups are marking the occasion all day in Yagan Square, kicking off proceedings this morning with a community breakfast and Acknowledgement of Country.

Speaking this morning, WAAC CEO Lisa Dobrin welcomed and thanked the individuals, community groups and organisations who’d come together for World AIDS Day.

“HIV has always flourished in the shadows of stigma and discrimination,” Dobrin said.

“Four decades ago in Australia, an unknown virus began to claim the lives of our lovers, families, colleagues and friends. We knew so very little back then, and judgment, fear and ignorance fueled the epidemic.

“But together we fought back. Together we pulled this virus out of the shadows. Together we made it to the other side, and now more than ever, together we cannot rest on our progress.

“Together we must not stop advocating for justice and equality, and together we will not ever forget those we lost, and those worldwide we continue to lose…”

“Today, and now more than ever, HIV is not over for anyone until it is over for everyone.”

MLC Alanna Clohesy also joined to speak at the morning’s proceedings, representing the WA Government and Premier Mark McGowan.

“In 2020… most of our attention has been turned to COVID-19, and its effects on people’s lives and livelihoods.

“COVID-19 is an important reminder that our health is interlinked with other critical issues like access to social protection, access to health care, human rights, gender equality and economic growth.

“It’s therefore timely and reflective, with all that’s going on worldwide, that the theme of World AIDS Day this year is ‘Now more than ever’

“Globally in 2019, there were 38 million people living with HIV. 38 million. 32.7 million people have died from AIDS-related illness since the start of this epidemic, almost 40 years ago.

“The Australian HIV response has been example of how community mobilisation, along with advocacy and partnership with government and affected communities can be pivotal in achieving a decline in new HIV infections.

“In Western Australia, the WA AIDS Council has been a leading partner since the beginning of the response. Public health strategies such as condom machines, and state-funded needle and syringe programs were once controversial, but are now commonplace. Talked about in international settings as a gold standard. A gold standard coming from Australia.”

Clohesy ended her speech with a message of hope, encouraging all in attendance to ensure they stay up to date on with regular testing.

“I hope that you have a great World AIDS Day. I hope that you remember our family, our friends, and I hope you support people living with HIV.”

World AIDS Day will be celebrated all day in Yagan Square, wrapping with a screening of the beautiful documentary film Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt, at 6:30pm.

OIP Staff

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