Thursday 1 December marks World AIDS Day, a time to remember those who have lost their lives to this devastating disease and to spare a thought for those living with HIV/AIDS today.

It’s also a day to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS, providing messages of safe sex and safe needle usage, as well as raising money for research and for the care of those who are HIV-positive.

As always in Australia the focus of World AIDS Day will be on the gay community, which has been affected by HIV/AIDS more than any other demographic in the nation.

Sydneysiders can take part in World AIDS Day at a number of events over the following week.

Walk for AIDS, a fundraiser organised by ACON, Bobby Goldsmith Foundation (BGF) and People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), will take place in the Botanic Gardens on Sunday 27 November from 10am. For more information or to register go to www.bgf.org.au or call 1800 651 011.

The annual AIDS Candlelight Memorial will be held on Thursday 1 December at 8:15pm in Hyde Park North. The guest speaker will be Mark Kuzma, otherwise known as Claire de Lune. Names to be read out can be emailed to candle2005@acon.org.au, or faxed to 9206 2075.

The Red Party at Stonewall on Friday 2 December is donating all door sales to ACON, as is Arq’s Under the Mirrorball party on Sunday 4 December.

Dirty Donkey at Rogues on Friday 2 December is donating 30 percent of its profits to HIV/AIDS charity The Luncheon Club.

G.A.Y. at Midnight Shift Club on Saturday 3 December is donating all door sales to the AIDS Trust of Australia.

The Body Shop is selling World AIDS Day red wrist bands for $3 at all their stores and donating the proceeds to the AIDS Trust of Australia. They have sold 3,000 wrist bands in the last week alone.

ACON is selling red ribbons around Sydney for $2 and is calling for more volunteers to sell them in the CBD. Anyone who can volunteer this Saturday 26 November or on Thursday 1 December should contact ACON on 9206 2024 or email redribbon@acon.org.au.

An estimated 14,840 people in Australian were HIV-positive in 2004, and most infections here continue to occur through gay male sex, according to the United Nation AIDS report released this week. More than 86 percent of new HIV infections in the past four years have been in gay men.

The annual rate of new infections in Australia was around 820 in 2004.

Since the first recorded Australian death from an AIDS-related illness in Melbourne in 1983, 6,590 people have died from AIDS-related illnesses in this country, according to the AIDS Trust of Australia.

The total number of HIV-positive people in the world is 39.4 million, the UNAIDS report said.

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