Queensland Positive People (QPP) has launched its new short film series tackling HIV stigma at the Brisbane Queer Film Festival.

The Talking About HIV Stigma series will screen at the festival, which starts March 10.

Simon O’Connor from QPP introduced the films at the Brisbane Powerhouse on Thursday night.

O’Connor spoke about the advances that have been made in HIV treatment, adding that stigma against people with HIV is still a major problem.

“HIV has become a manageable chronic health condition,” he said. “People are living longer, more productive lives.

“Stigma remains an aggravatingly persistent hurdle that impedes our progress.

“It’s disappointing, frustrating and very sad. Until we reduce the stigma of HIV, people will be afraid to test and afraid to disclose.

“We call on the community to boldly challenge stigma and expose it whenever and wherever you witness it.”

Footballer Matt Hall tells his story in the first film of the series. He was banned from playing Australian Rules for being HIV positive, and fought to have the decision overturned.

“You feel like people are judging you because you’re HIV positive, like you’re dirty or there’s something wrong with you,” Hall said.

“We can continue to educate society and make people more compassionate and eliminate stigma.”

Hall encouraged people who are living with HIV to seek support.

“HIV is not a death sentence,” he said. “There will be hurdles but you’ll get there in the end.”

Also showing at the Brisbane Queer Film Festival is the acclaimed French film Paris 05:59: Théo & Hugo, which deals with the relationship between two men, one HIV positive, after a sexual encounter.

Tickets for the festival are available now.

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