World AIDS Day (WAD) is fast approaching and a number of events will take place around Melbourne in the coming days.

Two WAD fundraisers will be held at the GH nightclub in St Kilda, the first this Friday, November 25 and the second on WAD itself, December 1.

Friday’s fundraiser will also see the re-launch of the Victorian AIDS Council/Gay Men’s Health Centre’s (VAC/GMHC) and Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations’(AFAO) sexual health campaign Drama Downunder.

AFAO president Graham Brown said the new phase of the long-running campaign has been designed to tackle rates of sexually transmitted infections among gay men following concerns STIs are driving new HIV diagnoses.

“Behaviour change doesn’t happen overnight, and the increasing rates of STIs are still a major concern for gay men,” Brown said.

“For maximum impact and to get more men going for regular sexual health checks, a campaign such as this needs to be sustained over an extended period of time.”

National Association of People Living with HIV/AIDS (NAPWA) president Robert Mitchell said STIs are also a particular concern for HIV-positive people.
“Having a STI can have a large impact on the health of someone living with HIV. This campaign explains what these impacts are and shows why regular sexual health checks are important for all HIV-positive people,” he said.

The campaign’s website offers information about STIs, treatments and a list of clinics.

A WAD commemorative event will be held on December 1 in Federation Square, with performers including the Victoria Police Showband taking the main stage from 3pm.

The VAC/GMHC will join forces with LGBTI radio station JOY 94.9 from 4-7pm to broadcast live from Federation Square. The day will also celebrate JOY’s 18th birthday.

The annual WAD memorial service will be held the same day from 6.30pm at the Positive Living Centre, Commercial Rd, South Yarra. WAD ambassador and comedian Rachel Berger will address the service. Doors open at 5pm.

The VAC is still looking for volunteers to hand out ribbons on December 1 around the Melbourne CBD. If you can donate a couple of hours, call Shane on 03 9865 6700.

INFO: www.thedramadownunder.info or www.vicaids.asn.au

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