WHEN Sasha moved to Australia she knew that she wanted to help raise awareness around HIV. Growing up in Zimbabwe, she understood the importance of helping out.

“I grew up with people who were living with HIV and I find it very meaningful when people try to help them,” she told the Star Observer.

[showads ad=MREC]That’s why two years ago Sasha Tinnoe began volunteering with the Ending HIV Red Ribbon Appeal, where she met a lot of new people and actively put out a helping hand to support HIV awareness and fundraising.

“I’ve become this person who wants to know more about HIV, along with volunteering,” she said.

“To help other people you need to know about the cause and not discriminate against anyone.”

The Ending HIV Red Ribbon Appeal is an annual fundraising event that raises money for community initiatives that are working towards eliminating the transmission of HIV by 2020.

The Appeal is run by ACON (formerly AIDS Council of NSW), a NSW organisation specialising in HIV prevention, care, and support.

Tinnoe said through volunteering she has met some inspiring people who were working to eradicate HIV and reducing the stigma and lack of knowledge surrounding it.

“There is a woman that I met through the Appeal who’s living with HIV, and just looking at her gives me this passion,” she said.

“I met her only last year and I look up to her.

“It’s great to volunteer because you get the experience, and you get to understand it… it won’t just be HIV in a bracket, you actually broaden out and learn a lot about it.”

Red Ribbon Appeal volunteers will be out in force on November 30 and December 1. (Supplied photo)

Red Ribbon Appeal volunteers will be out in force on November 30 and December 1. (Supplied photo)

The Red Ribbon Appeal is run as part of World AIDS Day, a day that helps to mark both the advances made in the fields of HIV prevention and research, and to remember those who have died from AIDS-related illnesses.

ACON chief executive Nicolas Parkhill said the Appeal was significant for both ACON and the wider LGBTI community.

“Over the past 30 years HIV has had a huge impact on our community,” he told the Star Observer.

“On World AIDS Day we remember the thousands of Australians who have died from an AIDS-related illness and celebrate the courage and determination of people with HIV.

“The money we raise through the Ending HIV Red Ribbon Appeal is vital to the work of ACON as it helps us run programs and services that are essential to ending the HIV epidemic in NSW by 2020.”

Troy Longworth has been volunteering for the Appeal on and off for the past decade, and last year he met a fellow volunteer whose story struck him as particularly inspiring.

“There was a straight guy that was a big league coach selling red ribbons and I was really surprised,” he told the Star Observer.

“He told me he had a gay guy on his football team who came out to him and because of that, his perception of gay guys changed and he decided he wanted to contribute to the LGBTI community.

“If you had’ve spoken to him two years ago he would’ve been quite negative towards the community.”Screen shot 2015-11-24 at 3.14.12 PM

Longworth believes volunteering for an event like the Ending HIV Red Ribbon Appeal is a great way to support a worthwhile cause.

“It’s a really practical way you can help fight HIV/AIDS and it’s a way to get involved,” he said.

“It’s something that’s helping to raise awareness and money to prevent HIV, and you get to meet fun people you wouldn’t normally meet.”

The Ending HIV Red Ribbon Street Appeal takes place across NSW on November 30 and December 1, to coincide with World AIDS Day. To volunteer, visit www.redribbonappeal.org.au

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**This article was first published in the December edition of the Star Observer, which is available now. Click here to find out where you can grab a copy in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra and select regional/coastal areas. 

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