The 15th annual AIDS Awareness Week began on Monday, with events marking an epidemic that continues to affect communities locally and globally.
The message is clear: the epidemic is far from over. Worldwide, five million people were newly infected with HIV in 2002. Eight thousand people die from AIDS every day and, at the end of 2002, an estimated 42 million people will be living with HIV. The total number of AIDS deaths is 25 million.
Increases in HIV infection rates within NSW over the last two years have prompted new campaigns from local health organisations. Last week, a coalition of groups including the AIDS Council of NSW, NSW Health and PLWHA (NSW) launched the HIV Prevention Action Plan. The first message of the campaign was short but blunt: Every day another gay man in Sydney is told he has HIV.
AIDS Awareness Week is also about raising awareness of the issues for people living with HIV, with the campaign theme Stigma and Discrimination an acknowledgment that HIV-positive people still experience hostility and rejection.
Events for the week include a benefit concert, to be held this Saturday 29 November at The Garrison (Holy Trinity) Church, Millers Point (phone 9876 6858); a barbecue at St George Hospital on Monday 1 December (phone 9350 2959) and an exhibition of works by HIV-positive people at Pine Street Gallery, Chippendale (phone 9395 0444). Red ribbons are being sold around the city and for the first time may be downloaded onto your mobile phone -“ visit www.acon.org.au for more information. A full list of events for the week can be found at www.worldAIDSday.org.au/events.
The AIDS Candlelight Memorial was postponed due to bad weather and will now take place on Monday 1 December at Green Park, Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst, from 8pm. To leave names for the reading, email candlelight@acon. org.au or fax 9206 2075. For more information, phone 9206 2110.
This week also saw the NSW World AIDS Day award ceremony held at the University of NSW on Sunday night. Awards were presented to volunteers who had contributed an outstanding level of support, as well as partnership awards and the posthumous roll of honour. The 2003 Innovation Award was presented to Positive Decisions, a group founded in 2000 to assist HIV-positive people to make choices about returning to full- or part-time work.
NSW WORLD AIDS DAY AWARD WINNERS 2003
HUGS (HIV Understanding and Group Support)
Posthumous Role Of Honour