ACON is currently recruiting volunteers to help out with the annual Red Ribbon Appeal, selling Red Ribbon fundraising merchandise in the lead up to and on World AIDS Day on December 1.

One person who’s already signed up is 23-year-old Reuben Atticus, who has recently restarted volunteering within the gay community after a few years’ break.

Atticus volunteered at his first Red Ribbon Appeal in his hometown of Wollongong in 2004, stopping in 2006 when he moved to Sydney, and starting again this year.

He said while the annual appeal was an important monetary fundraiser, it also served as an opportunity to destigmatise the issue of HIV within the wider community.

“There’s a bit of stigma — people in Wollongong assumed that if you were handing out ribbons then you yourself must be positive, and that still occurs here in Sydney too,” he told the Star Observer.

“Not being positive myself, I think it’s important to show that people who haven’t contracted HIV still care and are passionate about the cause.”

Atticus has thrown himself into volunteering of late, helping to spread the safe sex message at this year’s Sleaze Ball and pitching in at
ACON’s regular Bingay fundraisers.

And at only 23, his activism flies in the face of what we often hear about the younger generation of gay men — that they’re complacent about HIV education and unengaged with the community side of gay life.

“Down in Wollongong, ACON would hold Fun and Esteem workshops, and it was really good to see a lot of young guys getting educated about safe sex at an early age, and spreading that message to others,” he said.

“I get a great sense of satisfaction out of it, helping people and educating people.”

Atticus is angling for a day off work on December 1 so he can hit the streets and sell ribbons to as many people as possible. If not, he’ll be taking a box of ribbons to work and selling them throughout the day.

If you want to help sell ribbons on the street, all you have to do is donate a few hours of your time on Tuesday, November 30 or on Wednesday, December 1.

info: To volunteer to sell ribbons on the street or in your workplace, visit www.redribbonday.org.au

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