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Chargers tackle HIV stigma
Melbourne’s gay and inclusive rugby team, the Chargers, have joined the ENUF campaign against HIV stigma and discrimination as ambassadors. Chargers president Sam Minter said the club was enthusiastic about the opportunity to join the campaign.
“The Chargers have always been about promoting inclusivity and breaking down barriers, so joining the ENUF Campaign was a natural fit for us,” Minter said.
“Our club welcomes everybody regardless of age, playing experience, sexuality or HIV status, and we’re active in the community to promote those same values.
“Despite the advances in HIV treatment and prevention, HIV stigma is still with us and it has a devastating impact – not just on people with HIV, but our whole community.
“People living with HIV are part of our community and part of our team. Everybody has a responsibility to be part of the response to HIV, because it’s only by acting together that we can defeat this illness.”
HIV stigma refers to the negative attitudes, abuse and mistreatment directed at people living with HIV and includes sexual rejection, malicious gossip, being shunned by family, friends or co-workers, and being treated as ‘dirty’, diseased or ‘other’.
The ENUF campaign is about exposing and challenging stigmatising behaviours which discourage people from HIV testing and treatment, worsens mental health and creates barriers in the community.
Minter said the club is excited about promoting the campaign.
“We will be out and about through the Midsumma Festival season and all the way to the 2014 Bingham Cup in Sydney, handing out flyers, encouraging people to tell their stories and talking about how we can all help to break down the barriers of HIV stigma,” he said
“We encourage everyone – gay or straight, HIV positive or negative – to sign the ENUF 10 by 10 Manifesto and make a personal commitment to fight stigma and support our community.”
The Chargers parent club, Melbourne Rugby Club, is also behind the Chargers in supporting the ENUF campaign.
The Melbourne Unicorns, one of Melbourne’s oldest rugby clubs fielding twenty teams in 2013, also pledged their support.
“Rugby union, along with most contact sports, has long-standing processes in place to prevent transmission of blood-borne viruses, so HIV stigma has no place in sport, much less in the workplace or day-to-day life,” Unicorns club president Tyrone Landsman said.
“It’s just another form of prejudice – that is why we support the Chargers in confronting HIV stigma, along with their fellow ENUF ambassadors.”